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Road work impacting nearby streets

The work is part of a citywide capital improvement project aiming to improve about 3,000 miles of underground pipes.

During the past few weeks, road construction has affected much of Berks Street near 17th.

Many nearby residents, however, said they are unclear of what the construction is for.

Barry O’Sullivan, director of corporate communications at Philadelphia Gas Works, did not have an estimated cost of the capital improvement project, adding the purpose of the construction is to upgrade the main natural gas pipes that run underneath the streets and provide natural gas to neighborhoods and around the city.

“What we’re doing now at PGW is upgrading the natural mains throughout the city so there’s about 3,000 miles of that in total,” O’Sullivan said. “We are currently in a project where we are replacing about 1,500 miles of that. This project in and around Temple is part of that larger replacement and upgrade.”

O’Sullivan said this is a project that will continue for about 40 to 45 years in Philadelphia, but the construction at Berks Street should finish in the next couple of weeks. He added he did not have a specific date of completion.

Ally Adonizio, a senior public relations major, lives on Berks Street near 18th. It’s a one-way street with two-hour parking that is currently closed off, and closure leads to many drivers backing out of the street once they reach the road block, she said.

“Berks is the closest all-day parking so with that street down you have to go to further places to park which is inconvenient,” Adonizio said.

Dianna Johnson, a sophomore accounting major, lives on the 1800 block of 18th Street. She said her block was closed off at 18th Street and Montgomery Avenue about a week ago because of drivers trying to move past the construction at Berks.

“When they were digging out the trench they had three big machines, they needed somewhere to park it, so they literally parked it in the intersection of 18th and Berks,” Johnson said.

Maric Kusinitz, a sophomore geography and urban studies major said her apartment’s water had been turned off once from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a notice was put on the door that same day—once it was back on, her roommate Jonah Amedeo noticed a change.

“It came out yellow, I filled out about three glasses yellow before I got to clear water,” Amedeo said.

O’Sullivan said this would not have been done by the PGW workers at the construction site.

“We wouldn’t ever have to cut off people’s water services to do our work, as far as I know,” he said.

Nearby residents also said trash pickup has been affected by the construction.

June Cantor, a public relations specialist for the Philadelphia Streets Department, said she has not received reports about late pickups around 17th and Berks streets. These reports can be made by calling 311 or the Streets Department, and that report will then go to a sanitation supervisor who monitors the block’s trash collection.

O’Sullivan said PGW puts individual notices on residents’ door handles that explain the project and the date construction begins, in addition to posting information on nextdoor.com and pgworks.com.

Kusinitz, however, said she received no physical flyers or handouts concerning construction.

“We just literally never got anything on our door ever regarding the construction or when it was going to start, when it was going to finish or what they were actually doing,” Kusinitz said.

Zari Tarazona can be reached at zari.tarazona@temple.edu.

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