riverhole
Mark Dent/Billy Penn

This hole on the Schuylkill River Trail will cost $1 million to fix

Say hello to Philly’s literal money pit; says the president of the SRDC: “We don’t have that kind of money. Neither does Parks and Rec.”

mark

Somebody hung a professionally-made banner on the Schuylkill River Trail complaining about a “construction” site. The banner is gone, but the hole is still here.

The fence surrounding the hole located underneath the Chestnut Street Bridge forces visitors to the shoulder of the trail. If you’ve run or biked the Schuylkill at any point in the last two years, you know the hole.

The sign was titled “Not Actually Under Construction” (placed over an existing “under construction banner”) and reads:

“This hole, and this GD fence have been here since I moved to Philly over three years ago…We could argue that at least this obstruction is located in an area that doesn’t have a blind corner or becomes a bottleneck for runners and bikers. OH WAIT. JK.”

But there’s a reason the fence and hole have been a scourge on runners and bikers for so long: It’ll cost about $1 million to fix.

“It’s ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching there,” said Joseph Syrnick, president of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation.

He added, “We don’t have that kind of money. Neither does Parks and Rec.”

Passive aggressive sign complete with hashtag pun from philadelphia

This is not your average pothole. It is a literal money pit. The Schuylkill River Development Corporation spent nearly $100,000 diagnosing the problem. Turns out this sinkhole arose because this small portion of the trail — which is suspended over the river — is in failure, beaten down by too many vehicles crossing over it. Just to figure out what was wrong, the SRDC had to get engineers in a boat to survey the area and then write up a plan and then write up another plan and so on. The actual fix would require major marine construction costing $900,000 to $1 million, not a simple fill of the hole.

For awhile, the SRDC was able to patch it up with cement. It couldn’t do that forever and closed off the area by fence on July 9, 2015. The group even had to spend $900 on that damn fence.

“Now that doesn’t sound like a lot to Comcast Corporation,” Syrnick said, “but to Schuylkill River Development Corporation it’s 900 bucks.”

The banner that went up on the fence and has made its rounds on Philly Reddit is probably the most public complaint about the fence and the hole. It’s not the first, though. Syrnick said he’s heard plenty about it, including a response to an SRDC newsletter that was just, “Why don’t you fix the damn hole?”

“It’s easy to just sit back and say, ‘this has been sitting here for a long time,’” Syrnick said. “Wouldn’t we like to have $1 million sitting there unbudgeted to spend it on? Even the city, they don’t have $1 million sitting there.”

The good news is the hole should be fixed … eventually. PennDOT, which has plans to rehab Chestnut Street Bridge, will also take care of the hole. The bad news is it probably won’t happen until at least this winter and more likely next winter, in 2018-19.

This "under construction" banner was briefly covered up by a "not under construction" banner.

This "under construction" banner was briefly covered up by a "not under construction" banner.

Mark Dent

Syrnick hadn’t seen the banner until Billy Penn called. He planned to have SRDC take it down and by 4 it was no longer there. But he admitted whoever put it up was at least partially onto something.

“There is no construction,” Syrnick said. “If that’s the point he’s making, that is correct.”

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