Update on MLK Path, Bridge and Drive

As all who use MLK Drive know, the condition of the MLK Bridge (over the Schuylkill River), the MLK Path and the Drive itself are all in deteriorated condition.

Here’s an update on their status that we have learned from the lead agencies.

MLK path (between the Schuylkill River and East Falls Bridge) – Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is lead on this project. PPR received a $400,000 grant in 2016 to rebuild the nearly four mile path. Since 2016, the cost increased substantially and is now estimated to be a $3.2 Million. The design phase is supposed to wrap up by end of 2019. The Streets Department conducted the full survey, which is now complete. PPR still needs to raise the final $250,000, and recently submitted a proposal to the PA Department of Economic and Community Development. BCGP staff have arranged to meet the new State Representative to ask for her support on this project. If all goes well, construction will start in 2020.

MLK Bridge (over the Schuylkill River)– Philadelphia Streets Department is the lead on this project. This bridge has been in the “queue” for years; other City bridges have taken priority, but now it’s finally at the top of the City’s bridge list. Streets has submitted a prelim design to PennDOT for approval that increases the width of the bridge so that it can have a two-way side path. The Department is awaiting approval from PennDOT. BCGP has requested that a public meeting be held before the end of 2019 for the Department to describe the design for the Bridge.

MLK Drive (between East Falls and Eakins Oval) – Philadelphia Streets is lead here, as well. The roadway is slated to be entirely repaved by the City in the 2020 or 2021 paving season. A lane reduction north of Montgomery Drive may be in the works. BCGP requested reconfiguring of the curb radii at Sweet Briar to slow down turning vehicles. In the meantime, BCGP submitted over 50 photos of potholes and seams that needed filling to the Streets Department.  The pothole crew went to some of the sections during this past spring, but some remain to be done, particularly between Montgomery Drive and the Bridge.

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Topics: Biking in Philly, Featured, The Circuit

5 comments on “Update on MLK Path, Bridge and Drive

  1. Hammish

    I was on MLK drive and fell, but not due to the potholes. A wild turkey accosted me. I rebuked his advances with my tire pump, but he dodged it and smote me with malice. I called the city, but the woman laughed at me. We’ll see who gets the last laugh when I unleash 100, 000 spotted lantern flies on City Hall.

  2. Robert Baron

    MLK Drive is a disaster. I don’t understand how these paths deteriorate so quickly. Paths escaping the pounding of heavy vehicles (cars, trucks, etc.) should last for decades. Is there a lower standard of build for these paths versus streets?

    • Thomas H.

      It’s not your imagination. I too find most roads smoother and faster than paved trails, for two reasons. One, the quality of pavement is not going to be the same as is used on, say, the Schuylkill Expressway, so you’re right about that. Then too, there are the trees, which can be a blessing and a curse. Short term they provide welcome shade on a warm day. Long term, as they grow, so do the roots under the pavement…and I don’t have to tell you what happens when that happens.

    • Dustin

      I don’t know what the specific issue on the MLK Drive path is, but paths & sidewalks with lots of root-shaped bumps like that are often the result of having planted the wrong kind of trees (which break, rather than avoid, pavement) close to a path, or more often, needing to put a path right next to existing trees of the wrong type.

    • ern

      When the trail was paved the city cheaped out and paved asphalt right on the dirt. Dirt shifts really easily with tree roots and water flow, and the asphalt shifts with it. The repaving is so expensive because there will be a 10-12” deep gravel and sand base under the asphalt, which will keep the asphalt top stable and make the new path much higher quality and longer lasting than the old one.

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