After a tragic Ride the Ducks accident in July on the Delaware River, Ride the Ducks Philadelphia is proposing to construct a new route through the city. The company is looking to build a $1 million trench leading into the Schuylkill River near Martin Luther King Drive. This path would be built under a section of the current trail that is frequently used by bicyclists and joggers in the summer.
The design of this new path leaves many skeptics, as it creates a lot of engineering concerns. Joseph Syrnick, President of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation says:
There is a lot of work they need to do engineering-wise. In addition to enabling the ducks to negotiate a steep grade, the design must ensure that the boats can enter the water at low tide. The route also must not disrupt the park’s verdant aesthetic. The company will have to conceal the trench walls with plants or other cover.
Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration believes that even with the engineering challenges, this is the best option for the company, as well as the city. Richard Negrin, Managing Director of the Nutter Administration says, “I happen to think that this is what’s best for the city overall. I also think the Schuylkill is a more attractive, better option from the business aspect. It’s more picturesque.”
Ride the Ducks has hired Duffield Associates, based out of Wilmington, Delaware, to head up the project and oversee all of the construction.
The plan for the new routes does have a few major hurdles to overcome before breaking ground, including the approval of the water route by the U.S. Coast Guard, which is still awaiting the results of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the July accident, along with obtaining construction permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Philadelphia.
A public hearing is being scheduled in Philadelphia, where City Council will hear arguments for and against allowing Ride the Ducks the right-of-way entrance into the river. The Departments of Parks and Recreation, Streets and Planning will also review the project.
The new route for the tour would take passengers through Old City, City Hall and the Parkway before heading onto the Schuylkill for 20 minutes.
We will continue to monitor this project and update on its developments.