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New Bala Cynwyd Apartments Could Increase Main Street Traffic

Bala Cywynd apartment complex has implications across the river.

A proposed Bala Cywnyd apartment complex could impact parking and traffic in Manayunk, some residents feared, as a bridge over the river will be rehabbed.

Members of the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association Monday listened as developers from O'Neill Properties described a 593-unit, two-building apartment complex set for construction over the Schuylkill River in Lower Merion Township at the former Connelly Container Corp. site.

Although all of the new renters will live outside the city, the rehabilitation of the Pencoyd Bridge will divert some traffic to Main Street.

Located on Righters Ferry Road in Bala Cynwyd, the two buildings featuring one and two-bedroom apartments was approved by the neighboring municipality. On site, 890 parking spaces will be provided, and the buildings will be raised on columns to protect from flooding.

Developers approached the civic Monday to discuss renovating the former train bridge and paving one Philadelphia parking lot.

O'Neill plans to fix up the currently unusable former train bridge to allow its tenants two entry points—from Bala and near the United Artists movie theater in Manayunk. 

The 680-foot long bridge will be available to vehicles in the complex only. However, it will also feature a 8-foot-wide pedestrian path that will link the Schuylkill River Trail with Cynwyd Heritage Trail.

The parking lot, most of which previously existed, will be repaved and striped, allowing for 16 cars to park there. Unlike the brige, the public can utilize the lot for parking. 

"We don't really anticipate our tenants using the lot. It's really more of an access to the trail," developer Stephen Forster said.

Manayunk residents worried that the access to Main Street will continue to clog an already jammed up artery. The developers said a traffic study projected 34 right turns and 13 left turns on a typical morning during rush hour—with 80 percent of tenants driving on the Lower Merion side.

The Philadelphia side's closer proximity to I-76 left some resident doubting that assertion.

Additionally, neighbors feared of flooding in the vulnerable area. Developers referenced surveys of U.S. Geological Survey data indicating the Bala Cywynd site has historically avoided problems. On-site employees would be trained to evacuate tenants, and a towing company would remove cars, if needed.

For more information on the project, read the Narberth-Bala Cynwyd Patch coverage.

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