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Planning Commission Approves Purchase of Grays Ferry Swing Bridge

The abandoned bridge will be replaced with a new, slimmer version

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved a council bill yesterday that will allow the city to acquire an abandoned swing bridge that crosses the Schuylkill River. The approval of the property bill, proposed by Councilman Kenyatta Johnson earlier this month, further pushes along plans to construct a new swing bridge that will connect the two sides of the river via a pedestrian bike path.

The current swing bridge, the Abandoned Philadelphia Wilmington-Baltimore Railroad Bridge No. 1, is no longer functioning. The plan is to replace it with a lighter truss swing bridge with a new turning mechanism. The slimmer bridge, which will cost $8 million, will be for pedestrian and cyclists only, though maintenance vehicles will have access, as well.

When it's built, the Schuylkill River Crossing will connect the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail to Bartram's Mile, which is currently under construction and expected to open this summer. Currently, the bridge is owned by Conrail, who is expected to sell the city the structure for a small sum.

It was the last vote of the monthly planning commission meeting after a long list of action items, 10 of which included amending the zoning codes of various districts. All but one were approved.

The commission asked that the committee hold off on approving Bill No. 160396, which proposes amending the zoning code by adding a new subsection to "overlay zoning districts." The area in question is bounded by 29th Street, Sedgley Street, Ridge Avenue, Berks Street, and Glenwood. The bill calls to allow office use for medical, dental, and health practitioners, namely in the James G. Blaine School.

Yet the planning commission noted that granting the overlay would mean some 6,000 residential properties would be allowed to operate medical clinics by right. "That could be a good thing, but I think it's a bit over kill," said David Fecteau, who presented the bill to the commission.

Members unanimously voted for a 45-day extension to take action on the bill.

The next City Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for June 14 at 1 p.m.