Mar 15, 2016

Shortsightedness and Ignorance Steal Allentown's History

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Line along the Lehigh River, which was a basis for our industry and prosperity,  will now be a path for the spandex people, and their made in China bicycles.

While The Morning Call and Mayor Pawlowski celebrate another link in the rail to bike trail, Allentown lost a major part of it's history. While Pawlowski said "The community has been separated from water access for years," he ignored Bucky Boyle Park, just south of the Jaindl project. Bucky Boyle has been providing river access for over a century. Perhaps our Chicago Mayor has never been there, he should learn about our park system. While the spandex crowd applaud these paths, we lose an infrastructure that can never be replaced. Can you imagine how much compensation Jaindls' would want in the future to provide a rail line with a right of way? Ironically, while the spandex yuppies also want metro rail service, they are oblivious to the fact that these were the very tracks leading to both our train station and New York City. Future generations will be flabbergasted that their track tracks were scrapped for bicycle paths.

The photograph dates to 1976.  Note the A-Treat billboard, part of our commercial history that was saved by the Jaindl family.  Wish that they also had a soft spot for trains.

ADDENDUM:  Tomorrow afternoon, March 16th 2016, I will be at Coffee House Without Limits, 707 N. 4th St. (4th and Tilghman) between 3:00 and 3:45PM, with a historical map showing the former  railroad lines and spur routes of Allentown. 

11 comments:

doug_b said...

Bicycles and Light Rail are now a religion. Wait till your streets (maybe already) are all carved up with bike lanes - where one may see one or two bikes a day.

Rob said...

Speaking of shortsightedness, I've wondered what the city is going to do with all of the blighted and/or dated housing that surrounds the Waterfront project. It certainly doesn't contrast well.

Anonymous said...

One word that suits this "project" is hypocrisy.

On one hand, you have the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission telling anyone who will listen about how we need to get trucks off the roads and more rail freight.

Then they turn around and help Jaindl write a grant to tear up the allegedly prized freight tracks that while not used today could be used in the future.

The City spends a lot of money drawing up plans to bring back jobs and industry to the city. Yet, they too are complicit in tearing out all the rail freight routes too.

If you really want to get down to it, there is no plan for anything in the city. It's just because the tracks got in the way of the Waterfront so they had to go and they fudged a project around it.

michael molovinsky said...

@9:07, it's worse than you know. the last business in allentown that used RR freight service was there, until very recently. they were induced to leave.

Anonymous said...

I'm neither a bicycling proponent or a rail proponent, but I like to think I'm a realist.

The tracks in question are not needed anymore since (as Mr. Molovinsky notes) the last business using them was induced to leave. Even when the business was still there, the tracks were seldom used.

I also know that rail service to NYC will be a taxpayer-funded boondoggle that will benefit a select few, but cost all of us dearly.

In the grand scheme of things, conversion to the trail is the lesser of two evils, and likely helps save us from the greater.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:03, the track was actually originally of the old main of LVRR. in it's later life it was the last spur line in allentown. the west end, had ran along sumner ave and hooked past the fairgrounds to 12th and liberty. the barber quarry ran along lawrence street, until it hooked north through union terrace. the track has been removed from all three routes. ironically, AEDC would like to on speculation, to put a track back to S. 10th, on the old quarry barber path, which would cost untold $millions. in past and future posts i will tell more about this front street line, which should have been retained. among many businesses, it serviced A&B, site of the current auto museum. nobody, save this blogger, has advocated for this town's historic attributes, WHICH NO LONGER EXIST. a plasticville for zombies.

Anonymous said...

We don't need railroads or trucks. Everything will be delivered by solar powered drones to your urban loft drone port . You don't need a car,UBER/LYFT/bicycle.

Anonymous said...

Think of the pathway as a barbarian shortcut.

George Ruth said...

I can't wait for my apartment overlooking the scenic light towers at Taxpayer Park in the fashionable east Allentown. I'll even be able to watch them tear down Martin Tower.

Anonymous said...

I was reading an article in the Morning Call relating to this. Someone in the comments section pointed out the New England Avenue project, which was abandoned because of high levels of arsenic in the soil. As I understand it, arsenic is a byproduct of burnt coal. If so, isn't there an arsenic issue with removing these lines or does arsenic discriminate?

michael molovinsky said...

@1:38, they went through the same nonsense justifying the delays when building the new 15th street bridge a few years ago. under that former bridge ran the barber quarry RR branch line. the railroad ties were treated with arsenic to preserve the wood. so, although there was some arsenic, it's just superficial contamination of the surface of the former rail bed. the pa. DEP plays ball with the city, justifying delays when convenient, and likewise, turning it's back on real issues, like the overflowing sewer pipes along the little lehigh.