Pennypack Creek Bridge presents new challenges in Holmesburg [updated]

Update May 9, 2013 ConRail has agreed to allow the Holmesburg Civic Association paint the bridge, and will waive the fees, registration and insurance.

The Pennypack Creek Bridge that connects Holmesburg with Upper Holmesburg has been cleaned up and remains under surveillance by town watch and police.

But as Holmesburg works to maintain the part of the park around it, the train trestle that crosses over Frankford Avenue is still an eyesore.

“The oldest bridge in the new world” was dedicated in October with a historical marker, following years of work in the neighborhood to get recognition for the more than 300-year-old slice of road between Solly Avenue and Asburner Street on Frankford Avenue.

With plans to maintain the adjacent pocket of Pennypack Park, it’s now the Conrail-owned trestle that’s the biggest obstacle for the Holmesburg Civic Association. President Rich Frizell and former President Fred Moore have worked to no avail to have the trestle painted.

“We’re working on it,” is the latest answer HCA members got from Congressman Bob Brady’s office. District Administrator Ilene Jenofsky was at the group’s monthly meeting Tuesday to provide an update.

Conrail is not required to paint the trestle, she explained, because doing so is a “beautification,” not a “maintenance” effort. If the HCA wants the trestle painted, it will have to foot the bill — roughly estimated to be between $6,000 and $10,000 — itself or seek donations. Conrail would waive the application and other fees.

“If they do one, they have do 1,000 more,” Jenofsky explained to Holmesburg residents, “and it’s not a small little project.” There’s liability to be considered, because  the bridge is connected to wires, and part of Frankford Avenue would likely need to be closed to accommodate the crew.

Painting the trestle is the most expensive option, though the alternative — a large banner  — wasn’t as appealing to the 30-plus HCA members at Tuesday’s meeting.

“This isn’t over yet,” Jenofsky said. “Maybe next mont I’ll have a better answer for you.”

Regardless of the condition of the trestle, the HCA is moving ahead with plans for a park clean-up and picnic this Spring with the help of Friends of Pennypack Park and its sub-group, Friends of Pennypack Creek Bridge.

Set for April 20, the clean-up will unite volunteers to beautify the area around Frankford and Solly avenues before having a picnic in the park.

“We’re going to do everything we can to hold into that park,” Frizell said. “It’s lost to the community.”

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