When the new connecting street is opened, West Liberty Street should be renamed “Dillerville Road South” because it will be one continuous train of vehicles from College Row to Prince Street.
I went to the planning commission meeting, my third in a week related to the rail yard opening to Liberty Street, because I had questions. What accomodations will be created for pedestrians walking along the new street behind College Row, with the cross-traffic from all the businesses and the college dormitories? Will sidewalks be installed on the parking lot, or some sort of pavement markings? Will student athletes be able to walk from their dormitories on the main campus or from College Row to the new practice fields, or will they have to drive there like many of them now do? How are trucks entering or exiting the intersection at Harrisburg Pike going to be able to make the turn radius considering the opening is smaller than required by code? Can we completely ban truck traffic, except for local deliveries to the College Row businesses and Liberty Place?
Additionally, I was curious about the pedestrian bridge over the rail yard (see photo below), whether an effort had been made to find a state or local park that may be able to use it. Yet the question was barely posed before my neighbor from down the street called out, “Wait, wait!” (No other neighbors attended the meeting, by the way).
It turned out my neighbor Pam really wants that pedestrian bridge. For her back yard. To connect to her - what do you call it, she asked her brother, Mike. Deck, he said. To connect to her deck. That way it will always be there for people to see, so they remember what it looks like.
Keith Orris said they had not contacted public parks due to the cost of moving the bridge and funds not being available. I said private funding sources might be available and that it doesn’t hurt to ask. At this point he looked like on the whole he'd rather be in Philadelphia.
Keith added that they had considered cutting the bridge into pieces. Personally, I think they should use it to stage a re-enactment of the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge burning. Or sell the demolition rights to a movie maker.
Somebody cue Charlie Chaplin.
Better yet, call the Keystone Kops and have them arrest the James Street Improvement District. Did someone ask to have a traffic study done and traffic calming measures put in place if needed (IF?)? Who has the money for that? Did I hear you say JSID? Is that what you said? Pouring traffic and its accompanying pollution into a quiet, green residential neighborhood isn't what one ordinarily considers to be improvement.
Enter the Drama Queen: I am not asking for traffic calming and amelioration for myself. In 2005 my ex and I sold our house in the 400-block of Nevin Street. Three years ago it sold again for more than double our price. My never-ending fixer-upper is ready to be flipped, too, at F&M neighborhood prices. I didn't get free of tobacco in order to breathe vehicle exhaust and pulverized rubber. Seeya, diesel breath.
Here’s an idea: move the pedestrian bridge to Liberty Place, so that brides who rent the Liberty Place Theater and Conference Center for their weddings have a fighting chance of crossing the street once it becomes Dillerville Road South.
Epilogue: Yesterday in the warm evening four young people walked in the south lane of West Liberty Street, carrying grocery bags from the Chinese grocer on East Liberty, presumably returning to the F&M campus. Walking on the road because it is a quiet street. And because the sidewalk ends at Charlotte Street. They were laughing and chatting. This is the lifestyle that nourished our ancestors. Who speaks for them?