Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- September 29th

Skylink Aerial Tramway

What a shitty idea.
                       Ah, the Delaware waterfront. So many dead proposals related to it, so little time. This river is a curse to development. Most of the time, that curse sucks. Cool-ass shit that you would want on the river just never fucking gets built. This is a situation where the curse worked out in all our favors. This time I'm happy that this is a dead-ass proposal. I'm talking about the stupid-ass idea of building a Tram over the Delaware.
                       It started in the 80's but it wasn't until October of 1997 that the Delaware River Port Authority, an unbelievably corrupt organization, began mentioning the idea of a tram that would ferry people between Camden and Philadelphia 160 feet over the river (not even as tall as the deck of the Ben Franklin Bridge). From Day One, people laughed at such a ridiculous notion. First, why the fuck would you want to go to Camden? Second, even if you did, there's already a big fucking multi-modal bridge connecting the two cities.
                     The primary reason given for this stupid project was to allow people from South Jersey to park in Camden and take the tram over to a new $174 million dollar "entertainment center" that never got built. Back when the tram was first proposed, they all said they could do it for under $15 million wasted dollars and that it would be built by Fall of 2000. HA!
                    In March of 1998, $245,000 dollars were burned doing an engineering analysis. This price went up to 21.5 million for the 1,800-foot long structure. By June, a $1.5 Million dollar "study" was approved. One point five million dollars? They needed that much money to do a "study"? I would let them pay me that just to walk into a board room and say "It sucks. End of study."

This is what they thought the Camden Riverfront was going to look like by now lol
                     In August of 1998, then-Mayor Ed Rendell was quoted as saying, "I want to see the opening tram ride on Dec. 31, 1999..." Yeah, right. By July of 1999, the budget was up to $27 million, this time with federal funding poured in. On March 1, 2000, public hearings were held about it. Most people were into it, but a few heroic NIMBYs stood up and reminded DRPA that this thing was pretty much useless. They were ignored. Spring of 2002 was given as the completion date.
                      On December 6th, 2000, construction began on the foundations of the 250-foot towers that were to carry the tram across the river. This was a sideways maneuver by DRPA to spur development at Penn's Landing, which they were expecting by this point and wasn't happening. In September of 2001, shit started going downhill. Camden NIMBYs were getting into the mix (who knew Camden had NIMBYs?) and the land that the eastern tower was to be built on got tied up in legal shit.        

Meh, the towers actually look pretty cool.
                          By the time June of 2002 rolled around, the "entertainment complex" development stalled and DRPA threw even more money at the tram as a last-ditch effort with the hopes that developers would take a risk on the waterfront. The budget was now up to $32 million. In the meantime, some projects that came along as a result of this boondoggle had started to go into effect. The Hyatt Regency, the restoration of the RCA Nipper Building, and some Camden waterfront shit started to make it look like the tram was still a go.
                      In June 2004, with $13 million already spent, the budget up to $42 million, and yet another $50,000 "study" under their belt, DRPA was still trying to convince people that the Skylink Aerial Tramway was still going to happen. By this point, the anchor for the tower had been standing for years as a pathetic monument to boondoggling corrupt-ass city and state officials everywhere. By October of that year, the budget was up to $46 million with $15 million already spent (on nothing), and rumors were swirling that the end cost for this thing was going to be over $100 million.
                     .... And that was it. After that, DRPA just said "fuck it" and the tram plan went kaput. No one knows the real number of dollars that were wasted on this shit. What a fucking travesty... not that it wasn't built, but that millions of public dollars were thrown away speculating about this thing. All we have left to show for it is the giant concrete pi that sits in the middle of an empty surface lot on the waterfront.

The sign should say, "Yeah, sorry about that." or "This cost at least $15 million"
                       Those dumb fucks. DRPA, you fucking owe us. Pay up!


  1. I always wondered what that big concrete thing was. Thanks for finally putting my mind at ease!

  2. So I think I just solved one of the greatest classic mysteries of all time. Stonehenge was really an ancient pork project that never got completed! Brilliant!

  3. Yes... Of all the proposals that have died, I'm definitely glad this one did. Now we need to figure out how to market the giantic Pi we have on the waterfront to the math community, and market pilgramage packages to worship at its base.

    Visit Philly needs to know about this.

  4. Multimodal bridge AND a ferry. In a city full of terrible ideas, I think this was legitimately the worst.

    @GroJLart: any idea how fast this was supposed to go? Would it even have been any faster than the ferry? God, I'm getting angry again just thinking about this. Thanks for ruining my morning. Jerk.

  5. Another thing to mention is that the exhaust from passing ships would be hot enough to damage the cars/harm passengers.

  6. A recent proposal is to make the pi-shaped support a state memorial to commemorate Pennsylvania’s founding not far from that locale. The monolithic structure would be named the Keystone State Arch. See more about it in my book, Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront.

  7. Just demolish the damn thing already. It's an embarrassment!

  8. I dumbest idea EVER...tear it down so we dont have to be reminded of the sheer stupidity of our public officials