The Flat Rock Dam Betterment project, a multi-year ecological project that will restore an eastern portion of the dam, will cause a 3-4 month closure on the Schuylkill River Trail between Leverington Ave. in Manayunk and Shawmont Station this fall.
Starting on Monday, September 11, 2023, the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) alongside the Flat Rock Dam will be closed to all pedestrians and bikers between Leverington Avenue in Manayunk and Shawmont Station. The trail will be closed through the end of 2023. Temporary suspension of trail use is necessary for pedestrian and biker safety as the work along the steep embankment is completed. This closure will include all trail-impacting work activities for the remainder of the project through spring 2024.
During this time, closure signs will be posted on both ends of the obstructed portion: one at the Shawmont Station (at Shawmont Avenue and Nixon Street) and one just below Leverington Ave. on the Manayunk Towpath.
Walkers and bikers will be able to travel further on the SRT toward the worksite, but will meet a dead end at the worksite and will be required to turn around.
The mapped detour route will run from Nixon and Shawmont Streets up Shawmont Avenue to Minerva/Umbria Avenue along Umbria Street to Leverington Avenue, down to Main Street, and rejoin the SRT at the Manayunk Towpath. Cyclists and hikers should be advised that this detour route has some steep inclines and not all areas have bike lanes or sidewalks.
Background on FRD
Currently underway through 2024, the Flat Rock Dam Betterment Project started in Fall 2022 to reconnect the Manayunk Canal with the Schuylkill River.
The historic Manayunk Canal was closed to navigation in the 1940s, and the flow of fresh moving water from the Schuylkill River has been cut off for decades. The restoration of the dam has been a long road to finally starting construction. The planning for this project began in the 1990s – 30 years ago!
In February 2023, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) hosted a community meeting at Venice Island Performing Arts Center in Manayunk. More than 100 residents joined PWD to hear from subject matter experts who provided important information and insightful background details.
- David Weld, Water Engineering Assistant Projects Manager, shared key facts about the history of the canal and how the project came to be.
- Lance Butler, Senior Scientist, Office of Watersheds, reviewed the ecological impacts of the project.
- Pete Reilly, Construction Division Engineer, provided a construction status, an updated timeline, and possible impacts on the community.
Why is this restorative work important?
Investments in the Manayunk Canal and Flat Rock Dam will assist Philadelphia in meeting Clean Water Act and source water protection obligations. The improvements will also protect drinking water sources for Philadelphia, which relies on the Schuylkill River for nearly half of the city’s water supply.
This project will improve water quality for wildlife in the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River. The current lack of flow in the canal creates stagnant water conditions, which leads to poor habitat and seasonal local odor issues.
In addition, historic structures that have fallen into serious disrepair and are subject to vandalism and graffiti will be restored and maintained.
This is a collaborative project with many partners. Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR), Army Corps Engineers, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, PA Historical Museum Commission, along with other partners, all made this project possible. The project is being financed with support from a low-interest $20.7 million loan from PENNVEST, the state’s revolving loan fund for water infrastructure improvements. Manayunk Development Corporation and Philadelphia Canoe Club have helped PWD spread the word about this project.