Pristine streets apparently don’t last very long in Northeast Philadelphia.
Take the recent case of Frankford Avenue, for example. In August, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spent about $736,000 of taxpayer money to resurface four miles of the avenue from Rhawn Street north to the city line. PennDOT is responsible for maintaining the avenue because it’s a state highway.
But less than a month after PennDOT left the job site, a Philadelphia Gas Works contractor showed up to dig up much of the new asphalt.
PGW officials say that they plan to replace about four miles of aging gas mains beneath Frankford Avenue and nearby thoroughfares, including Academy Road and Linden, Arendell and Grant avenues. That work in Upper Holmesburg and Torresdale is scheduled to continue for the next several months and is part of PGW’s broader Pipeline Improvement Program, the utility company’s perpetual effort to upgrade the city’s 2,000 miles of gas mains.
Taxpayers who also happen to be PGW customers are paying for the new mains via their monthly gas bills.
Asked by the Northeast Times why PennDOT would repave a street mere weeks before PGW was going to dig up the new surface, representatives for both organizations were at a loss to explain the lack of coordination. Although both insisted that they had duly notified the other agency of their plans months in advance.
For its part, PGW insists that its contractor will leave the streets in the same condition that they were prior to the gas main work, if not better. But the patchwork resurfacing could take weeks or months. And utility customers will pay for that, too.
According to a page on PGW’s website, the work will take place on the following blocks: 8900–9100 and 9400–9700 Frankford, 4300–4700 Linden, 4400–4700 Arendell, 4300–4400 Aubrey, 4000 and 4600 Fitler, 4000 and 4600 Primrose, 4500–4700 Grant, 9100 Academy, 9200 Walker, 9200 Gillespie, 9200 Jackson, 9200 Glenloch, 9300 and 9600 Ditman, 9200 Marsden and 9200–9300 Torresdale.
PGW doesn’t give specific work dates for any location because progress is dependent on variables such as weather and conditions below the street surface. Work began on the 8900 to 9100 blocks of Frankford Ave. on Sept. 22 and continued the next day, but the contractor has not returned to the job site since then. A stack of new, uninstalled gas pipes has been sitting on the 9100 block of Frankford in front of the James D. Morrissey Inc. property for the last three weeks.
PGW’s website lists tentative start and end dates for various portions of the project. Work at 8900 to 9100 Frankford and 9100 Academy is due to end by Oct. 30. Work in the area of Frankford and Eden Street was scheduled to begin on Aug. 31 and is due to end by Nov. 27. The window for work in the area of Linden and Walker streets is Oct. 22 through Jan. 5, although residents informed the Times on Oct. 12 that work in that area had already begun. The window for work near Frankford and Pearson is Oct. 23 through Nov. 30. Visit www.pgworks.com/worksites for information about locations and schedules. ••