Streets Dept. now says tracks will NOT be paved over
Face meet egg: Yesterday, I reported that there was a tentative plan to pave over the rail tracks on 11th and 12th Streets in Center City, from Market to South Streets, this fall. That information came directly from Keisha McCarty-Skelton, Public Relations Supervisor at the Philadelphia Streets Dept., by email, who confirmed said information with an engineer on the project.
McCarty-Skelton now tells PW that the streets will be paved, but the tracks will remain!
“Apparently, the engineer I spoke to was misunderstood,” she says today. “What I learned from our chief engineer is that we will be paving adjacent to and around the tracks,” she adds. “Because they’re SEPTA’s tracks, we have to get their permission and it’s very costly – and it’s costly to remove them, so we won’t be paving over them.”
Here’s the text of the email I received from the Streets Dept. on Monday, all of which was either quoted or written in yesterday’s story:
The Streets Department will be resurfacing 11th and 12th St from Market St to South St this fall. The tracks will be paved over unless it is determined that they are too advanced that they cannot be buried and will affect the smooth overlay in the street.
The trolley tracks and areas within 18 inches on either side are the responsibility of SEPTA. Removal of the tracks is expensive and can cause a change of construction of the street. For example, resurfacing of one city block along with removal of tracks cost approximately $400,000 to resurface.
I’m waiting to hear back from the engineer on the project for more information. Updates as they come — and much apologies if we got anyone’s hopes up. Feel free to let me have it.
UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Darin Gatti, Chief Engineer of the Philadelphia Streets Department, who tells me the tracks cannot be paved over due to restrictions from the American Disabilities Act, and costs.
“We do sometimes try and pave over old trolley tracks like we did it on Fourth Street,” he says, but the way 11th and 12th Streets have been set up and paved, the entire street could not have concrete laid over it unless the tracks itself were torn out—and that isn’t happening due to monetary constraints.
“It used to be easier [to pave over tracks],” he says, “but with the new ADA [American Disabilities Act] regulations you have to be really careful about paving over things and raising the streets.”
Essentially, some streets in Philadelphia are flat, and some are on angles. These particular streets’ angles, especially with the track in the center, are too steep.
“Some of the streets in Center City are pretty flat; some of them you’re walking up a steep hill to get to the center of the road,” he says.
As mentioned in yesterday’s report on this issue, it can cost up to $400,000 to rip rail lines from a single city block.
“When you get to this point, you’re looking at your priorities: if the rails aren’t being used, it would be nice to get rid of them. But we have so many streets that need to be paved, we can’t afford to make this street that much nicer and have this street covered by pot holes.”
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