But this winter, things are different along 25th Street. A sudden spike in freight traffic because of the surge in North Dakota oil production and the reopening of South Philly's massive refinery, a nearly disastrous derailment on the 128-year-old bridge over the Schuylkill River, and news coverage of a nearly 30-foot concrete slab falling have raised fears. But there's also hope that CSX will finally address Philadelphia's infrastructure crisis.
On Wednesday, executives from the notoriously tight-lipped freight line are slated to arrive from Jacksonville, Fla., to testify at a City Council hearing on freight-rail safety. It's suddenly a front-burner issue after two oil-laden tanker cars nearly tumbled from the circa-1886 Schuylkill Arsenal Bridge and a spate of oil-by-rail accidents elsewhere, including one in Quebec that killed 47 people in July.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson - whose district is bisected by the milelong oil trains that arrive about twice a day from North Dakota - said he's optimistic that CSX will announce stepped-up maintenance and an infrastructure overhaul that will address safety concerns that have festered in South Philly, Grays Ferry and other parts of the city for decades.