Breaking news: PWD starts major project in Fishtown

April 29, 2010

By Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly

The Philadelphia Water Department recently informed some residents near the SugarHouse Casino site that it would be starting heavy construction work at the intersection of N. Delaware Avenue and Laurel Street.

See PWD release: Page 1, Page 2

According to a notice circulated by PWD and signed by Division Engineer Albert Horn, the work would involve replacing sewers and mains that have outlived their usefulness.

Water Department spokesman John Digiulio confirmed the work was connected to the SugarHouse Casino sewer improvements projects, namely the Laurel Street Combined Sewer Outfall. He said the work will be done in several stages, with the city responsible for all work west of Delaware Avenue and the casino responsible for work near its property east of the avenue.

The city expects its share of the project will cost $3.4 million.

Chelsea Thompson, who lives on Allen Street, about a block away from the construction site, is upset because she and her neighbors weren’t notified about the construction and its timeline.

“We should have been notified because we’re the ones affected day and night by this road closure,” she said, adding that the Jersey Barriers the Water Department has set up on Frankford and Delaware Avenues are making it difficult for residents to get in and out of the neighborhood.

Thompson also fears the road work will divert traffic down her residential street — a problem made worse by the fact that the Water Department work should finish right around the time SEPTA begins a four-month project on Frankford Avenue that involves building a new turning loop for the Route 15 trolley.

Neighborhood activist Jethro Heiko echoed the concerns of Thompson, his wife. He’s noticed cars driving on neighborhood sidewalks to get around the construction and is troubled that the Water Department hasn’t provided a bike lane. Heiko would like to see better signage and a plan for the city to detour cars to wider and busier streets.


PWD indicates the work, which is underway, will continue into the fall of 2010.

Check out this exerpt from the SugarHouse Casino website:

As part of our Development Agreement with the City of Philadelphia, SugarHouse has agreed to fund and construct the necessary improvements associated with the Laurel Street Combined Sewer Outfall (CSO).

These improvements will include the following, as currently planned: expand the cross-sectional area of the sewer approximately 84 percent, extend an additional 11 ft. x 11 ft. culvert across North Delaware Avenue, demolish the existing low-flow chamber, construct a new low-flow chamber on the west side of North Delaware Avenue and construct a new storm water-only sewer (48-inch diameter) from the west side of North Delaware Avenue to the Delaware River.

The result of these improvements will be the elimination of sewage back-ups in basements throughout Northern Liberties and Fishtown. When SugarHouse starts construction in the near future, these improvements and the mitigation of the sewage back-ups will be remedied in a relatively short period of time.

The result of these improvements, in conjunction with the additional improvements being implemented by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), will be the elimination of sewage back-ups in basements throughout Northern Liberties and Fishtown.

SugarHouse spokeswoman Leigh Whitaker said that the city had been planning the sewer work for a long time, and both the Water Department and the casino decided it made the most sense to do the work before SugarHouse started construction that would address the city’s traffic concerns.

The sewer chamber expansion has been planned for “many, many years,” she said, adding that it didn’t make sense to tear up the road after the casino did its construction.


Contact Matt Golas

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