Picture the Frankford Creek. Go ahead.
You probably can conjure a portrait of a dingy, shallow urban stream surrounded by old fencing, graffitied walls and trash-filled weeds.
Now imagine it as a recreation site. That’s how the city is visualizing the narrow waterway that serves as the Northeast’s southern border.
The Parks & Recreation Department and the Planning Commission have visualized a bike and pedestrian trail that runs along or nearby the creek from Wingohocking Street in Juniata through Frankford and all the way to Bridesburg near the Delaware River.
Current plans for the “Frankford Creek Greenway” were presented Sept. 30 at a small public gathering at the Juniata Golf Club on Cayuga Street.
Besides looking for public input, there’s still a lot more planning to be done before any brush-clearing and construction begins, said Rob Armstrong, Park & Rec’s preservation and capital projects manager. Armstrong said grants will pay for the project and that finding that money will take some time.
“We’re not going to have bulldozers out there tomorrow,” he told the small gathering.
The Greenway is envisioned as beginning a block down Cayuga Street where similar trails end along the Tacony Creek. The Tacony, Armstrong said, becomes the Frankford Creek at Wingohocking Street.
The trail’s concept began years ago with the Philadelphia Water Department as it was doing stream-restoration work, and a study of the possibilities of the Greenway was completed in 2007, Armstrong said.
The Frankford Creek was “channelized” in the 1950s, Armstrong said. To control flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers put much of the creek in a concrete channel. Part of the creek is hidden from view, too, he said, by a “cap.”
There was no plan to what grew on that “roof on the creek,” Armstrong said. The Greenway work will give the city a chance to manage the vegetation.
Currently, the plan is to build a 12-foot paved trail along the creek as it moves east from Wingohocking toward Kensington Avenue and then put the trail onto Kensington Avenue, which already has bike lanes, said city planner Jeannette Brugger, and then connect to Womrath Park.
The trail will move away from the creek for a while and use Worrell Street, she said, because the city doesn’t want the recreation plan to affect local businesses.
“We are trying to connect people to different parks,” Armstrong said, “but we can’t build a completely natural urban trail in this environment.”
Brugger said the plan is to head the trail toward Adams Avenue. Armstrong said the Greenway will be managed by the city to Worrell and Torresdale.
At that point, the trail will be built in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as part of its Betsy Ross Bridge interchange improvement project.
Armstrong said the trail will move along Adams Avenue on multiple-use sidewalks and connect to Aramingo Avenue. Adams Avenue will be rebuilt.
The trail will continue down Aramingo and then turn onto Wheatsheaf Lane, which Armstrong said is pretty much an industrial area, so the impact on residents will be minimal. The trail will turn onto Richmond Street, which is more residential, Brugger said.
Local streets will be used with side paths, and trail users will be able to follow signs to get to another trail along the Delaware. Hikers and bikers will then be able to use a trail network being built up the East Coast.
Armstrong said the city hopes to put a park gateway at Wingohocking Street, but “we want to be sensitive to neighbors.”
Armstrong said as public input is assessed and designs are completed, planners will be ready to present a final plan sometime later this year or earlier next year at the Globe Dye Works building in Frankford.
“This area needs more ways to recreate,” Armstrong said. “We want to make it happen.” ••
PennDOT has ideas…
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will host an open house public meeting on Thursday, Oct. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. to present plans to improve Interstate 95 from Wheatsheaf Lane to Levick Street and extend Adams Avenue. The open house will be held at the Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club at 2901 Bridge St. in Philadelphia. Parking for the club is located off Garden Street.
PennDOT is holding the open house to update the community on the current plans and schedules to rebuild and widen I-95 and improve connections at the Bridge Street and Betsy Ross Bridge interchanges. The meeting also will feature plans showing the extension of Adams Avenue from Torresdale Avenue to Aramingo Avenue to improve traffic flow and access to the interstate and the Betsy Ross Bridge. For more information, log onto www.95revive.com.