River Road residents express concern over proposed sewer line installation

The delay in a proposed sewer line to River Road in upper Roxborough has caused some anxiety for residents. Originally scheduled to be constructed in 2008 with completion in 2009, the project has stalled.

“People have asked me what has been going on with the sewer project,” said River Road resident, Tom Landsman. “There has been no real progress since 2008.”

Landsman served as president of the Residents of Shawmont Valley civic association when the sewer line was originally announced. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has mandated the City of Philadelphia to install the sewer line under the narrow street. 

Some residents, especially those living on fixed incomes, were concerned with the sewer hook-up fees which could cost them up to $5,000. Others were concerned that the street would not be returned to its original width.

Calls and emails made to the Water Department and Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.’s office were not returned.

“Some residents were concerned that the city would widen the street to put in bike lanes,” said Landsman. “Some homes only have 100-feet of frontage and that would take away from their property.”

But with the sewer line came other entanglements; city officials also wanted to rezone the area. Listening to residents’ concerns about development, the planning commission came up with a master community plan that included all of the variants that impacted the River Road community.

“We were zoned as R-5 then with the sewer line were proposed as a RC-6 master plan community,” said Landsman. “I don’t know what the zoning is called now.”

Landsman is referring to the new zoning code that is currently being worked on by the Zoning Code Commission and Philadelphia City Council.

True to its name, River Road is situated along the Schuylkill just outside of Manayunk. There is a mix of housing styles from historic to trailer homes along this isolated and bucolic slice inside the city.

The master plan was built on the consensus of residents who agreed that they did not want any new apartment or commercial developments on River Road. The only exception was made for a marina dock; the only one in an area where boats outnumber cars by a factor of two to one. No development is allowed on the side of River Road.

“We like open space,” said Landsman. “It’s a nice place to live when it is not under water.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.