New Schuylkill River Trail Extension Now Open

 

The new segment of the Schuylkill River Trail is now open for business. The 1,400-foot extension leads the trail from South Street to Christian Street with a thoughtful balance of wide pavement, comfortable benches, and pocket overlooks that provide a relaxing view of our “hidden river.” A pedestrian bridge connecting the foot path to CHOP’s Roberts Center for Pediatric Research public plaza on South Street affords trail users unhindered views of path activity, a fleet of crude oil trains, and the growing West Philadelphia skyline. The $5 million segment was designed by landscape architecture studio Ground Reconsidered, $1.5 million of which was spent on top soil, irrigation, and planting. The design of the extension is attractive now, but it won’t show its true colors until the greenery begins to fill in this summer.

Did I mention there are oil trains? Scores and scores of crude oil trains as far as the eyes can see. They’ve been hiding in the brush there all along, but now command center stage. Perhaps the City will one day find another way to get these “bomb trains” to the refineries of Philadelphia Energy Solutions. Until then, we are saddled with an unsettling public health risk stalking one of the best urban trails in the country. Enjoy the new addition, but keep your eyes to the river, your emergency alerts enabled, and your shoelaces tied. 

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Oiled up with anxiety on the new segment of the Schuylkill River Trail. Photographs by Michael Bixler.

About the author

Michael Bixler is a writer, photographer, and managing editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a former arts and entertainment reporter with Mountain Xpress weekly in Asheville, North Carolina and a native of South Carolina. Bixler has a keen interest in adaptive reuse, underappreciated architecture, contemporary literature and art, and forward-thinking dialogue about people and place. Follow him on Instagram



8 Comments


  1. I walked this section of the path last week and found it quite pleasant given the rail line but do wonder why the huge billboard that blocks the view of the city from the path was allowed. It looks to be on the path’s property.

  2. wow… can we get rid of that billboard?

  3. Anyone have any updates on the proposed swivel pedestrian bridge which is supposed to hook up with the Bartram Mile section of the trial?

  4. “Keep your emergency alerts enabled”? For the oil trains?

  5. PES is the east coasts largest refinery and the 10th largest in the country. Those trains are essential.

  6. While this is not my original idea, why not make a deal with CSX to trade the 25th Street Viaduct and rail lines along the river for a new bridge across the Schuylkill near the Platt Bridge that would take the trains directly to the refineries without risking catastrophe in populated neighborhoods. The Arsenal Bridge is 40 years past replacement stage, anyway. Convert the Viaduct to a subway line connecting to 30th Street Station and the Navy Yard, meeting the BSL at Pattison. Pay for it with a development tax in the virtually unpopulated areas which now are tow and chop shops along 25th Street and to the West. But we need more mass transit in South Philadelphia and we need to get oil trains out of the areas where people live

    • Sounds great….. I’m all for it but it’s a bad idea. The 25th Street viaduct is falling apart and currently being patched. I bet that if a Subway was planned to utilize the viaduct in the next 20 years, a structural assessment would reveal that it’s well beyond it’s life span. Reinfoced concrete from that era in exposed exterior areas rust from within. It’s just a matter of time before it must be torn down or converted to a park.

  7. I hope they can somehow keep and reuse that crane at the end of the latest section. It looks like it hasn’t worked in years. Perhaps a swing or a look out for pedestrians? Does anyone know if it’s still in use or abandoned?

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