Crumbling river walls a concern for local regattas
PHILADELPHIA - March 1, 2012 (WPVI) -- An 800 foot wall along the Schuylkill River is crumbling, and many are wondering if it will have an impact on the upcoming Regattas and river races.
A lonely rower heads down the Schuylkill Thursday afternoon, past the 800 feet of damaged river wall that has some claiming that the major regattas and boat races schedule for the spring might be in jeopardy.
One college event has moved to the Cooper River in New Jersey, but informed sources say events like the renowned Dad Vail Regatta and the dragon boat races are not going anywhere.
They say the crumbling walls are not a threat to the athletes themselves.
"We have no intention of moving the regatta to another venue or site," said Fran Connors, General Manager of the Dad Vail Regatta.
Huge concrete slabs along the river used to dock boats are the problem.
In October, a 100 foot wall collapsed, and divers have found that another 800-foot wall appears to have erosion problems. All of the damage is near the Strawberry Mansion Bridges.
The wall's support is deteriorating posing no threat to the rowers out in their lanes, but may be a problem for the thousands of fans who gather along the riverbank to watch the competition.
That section will be fenced off.
"We're going to be putting up a fence to block public access to the top of the wall, just about 15 feet back to the top of the wall, and then we are going to be posting signs and are communicating with the river community to stay away from the wall on the river side if they are kayaking, canoeing or otherwise on the river," explained Mark Focht of Recreation and Parks.
The mayor says he has tried to get federal funding to pay the $10 million tab to repair the wall, but so far, they've been turned down.
"We're not anticipating any other impact on the many, many regattas that we have," says Mayor Michael Nutter.
Along the track on Thursday, river lovers were relieved to hear that most of the main events are sticking with the Schuylkill.
"This spot up here looks to be iffy, but we won't be anywhere near here," said Bob Clowry, Philadelphia Triathlon. "I think the regattas do a pretty good job of keeping everyone away from this."
At this point, the city does not have the $10 million needed to fix all 800 feet of crumbling wall. All they can do now is continue to monitor the situation and try to prevent any further deterioration, and keep fighting not to lose any boat races.
dad vail regatta, philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, vernon odom
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