Scrapping and clearing the Reading Viaduct landscape

Late last week, Hidden City Daily mentioned that Reading International is clearing the Reading Viaduct of its rails and ties. As the rail above says, it looks like the scrapyard lies ahead for the rails.

I was part of a Viaduct tour with folks from the Reading Viaduct Project on Sunday morning, so I asked Sarah McEneaney, co-founder of the Project, about the work underway. McEneaney said the Reading International’s recent work on the Viaduct is in response to pressure by the city, including L&I violations. Her understanding is that Reading will be clearing the site end-to-end, but leaving the catenaries overhead. She added that Reading is supposed to repair the sidewalks below the Viaduct as part of the work.

By time time of my visit Sunday the area from the broad southern terminus of the Viaduct at Vine Street to Noble had basically been cleared of rail infrastructure and vegetation. Piles of rails and ties were separated and clustered around the perimeter of the Viaduct. Between Callowhill and Hamilton streets the tall grasses had been mowed and weed trees were cut down in preparation for infrastructure clearance. Further north the insurgent landscape remained, with pops of spring green emerging, and rails were labeled – some plainly as “SCRAP” above.

Of course, Reading’s clearance of the site happens with no firm plan in place – despite bold dreams for the length of the above and below ground viaduct – and designs [pdf] for park space along the SEPTA spur.

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