PCPC delays action on streets bill allowing creation of one portion of the Central Delaware River trail

Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said action on this bill was tabled. In fact, the commission requested an additional 45 days to review the bill. This technical difference is important, because city council cannot take action during the 45-day review period. It could act without the PCPC if the commission had tabled the bill.

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission tabled action on a streets bill that would revise the lines and grades of sections of Delaware Avenue and Penn Street to make room for a portion of the Central Delaware River Trail.

Streets Bill 120661 was introduced by First District Councilman Mark Squilla Sept. 13. It deals with Delaware Avenue from Spring Garden Street north to Ellen Street, and Penn Street from Delaware Avenue northwest to Ellen. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, a quasi-city agency, hopes to build the multi-use trail for bicyclists and pedestrians all along the Central Delaware. This section would link a planned Spring Garden trail to the existing trail in front of SugarHouse Casino. SugarHouse has agreed to build the portion that would run through their parking lot, connecting the pieces.

The streets bills portion of the PCPC meeting.

Commissioners earlier this week requested a 45-day extension to further review the bill, following the PCPC staff recommendation, in order to get more information from the DRWC.

“We agree with the concept of a bicycle trail at this location,” said planner Sarah Chiu. But she said
Chiu said staff did not have enough information about how this trail section will connect to Spring Garden Street, nor about how a planned trail split would work. At the split, trail users would have the option of staying along Delaware Avenue or veering off to go next to the river.  That split could lead to accidents if it isn’t handled right, Chiu said, so staff “wants to see a detailed design.”

PCPC Executive Director Gary Jastrzab said he would also like to work with the DRWC to bring back to the commission more details about the design of the entire trail so that the commission could understand how this piece works “in context.”

He told commissioners they would also be asked to sign off on a third piece. Some sections of the trail will be on city sidewalks, and that needs PCPC approval. The 45-day extension means all three items – the revision of street lines and grades, the overview of the entire trail design, and the approval of trail on city sidewalks – can come to the commission at the same time, Jastrzab said.

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