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It’s Safety Vs. Convenience When Getting On The Schuylkill Trail

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

(Credit: Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Access to the Schuylkill River Trail has been blocked at Race Street, since an April rainstorm flooded the area and broke the automatic gate there, leaving residents to fear keeping the gate closed is unsafe.

“I’m probably not supposed to be doing it. There are other entrances that are safer.”

It was a beautiful Saturday and Renny was out for a run, but she ended up running on the rail bed next to tracks that carry freight trains along the Schuylkill banks because it was the closest, easiest way to get around the padlocked gates on Race Street.

“I guess I’m willing to take the risk for the sake of convenience,” she said.

The city’s chief traffic engineer, Richard Montanez, wishes runners wouldn’t do that, but he understands their frustration. He says he’s frustrated himself:

“I gotta get these motors out of the flooding area. It’s the third time we lost these motors. Every time the Schuylkill overflows its banks, the motors are burning out.”

Montanez says a court-ordered settlement with the freight carrier requires the gates be closed when a train is going by so until the motor’s fixed — hopefully this month– the gates have to stay padlocked.

He says the flooding also affects the automatic gate at Locust Street, but that’s remained operational.

Montanez has ordered new motors from the Australian supplier and has redesigned the housing so it won’t be ground level.

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