January 12: Chao hearing | Pencoyd Bridge | Faith & Liberty

Streetsblog found Elaine Chao, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation, vague at her confirmation hearing. Chao repeated that she would look in into continuation of current transit projects, recognizing that “passenger rail is very popular with riders,” and declared that pedestrian safety would be the DOT’s top priority.

Abandoned for years, the iconic 117-year-old Pencoyd Bridge in Manayunk is back in business. The one-lane bridge, part of the Schuylkill River Trail, has been freshly painted green and restored for pedestrian and cycling use. Hidden City gives the full history of this 1900 truss bridge.

The first floor of the Wells Fargo Building at 5th and Market streets will become a new $60 million center on the influence of the Bible in American life, built by the American Bible Society.  The Inquirer reports that the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will be designed by Local Projects, which designed the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at Ground Zero.

Fatal overdoses in Philly spiked by 30 percent in 2016. The city had 900 overdoses and 277 homicides last year. Mayor Kenney, Philly.com reports, Mayor Kenney has convened a task force to address the problem, saying “Failure is no longer an option.” To that end Max Marin looks into how the city and its nonprofit partners are trying to address the prevalence of homeless heroin addicts in Kensington, at the Conrail tracks along Gurney Street. For starters there’s a six-month plan to stabilize the encampment by providing social services – funding everything from temporary shelter to ID cards. But trust, significant funding, and a long-term plan are still required.

New York State is considering a bill that would give gig-economy contractors limited benefits, but not the full rights of employees. Bloomberg reports the bill is being backed by Handy, a cleaning company modelled like Uber and instacart, which relies on independent contractors to provide lower prices to customers. For workers, it means no payroll tax contributions, anti-discrimination protections, or collective bargaining rights under federal law. Hector Figueroa, who heads SEIU’s East Coast property-services affiliate, likens Handy founder’s proposed bill in NY to 19th century Industrial Revolution era of workers treatment. Will it catch on? 

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