New Philadelphia park over I-95 gets approval
The construction of a new city park and cap atop I-95 at Penn's Landing is starting after more than a decade of planning.
Why it matters: Old City has been cut off from the waterfront since the highway was built in the 1970s. The new park will restore access between the city and the Delaware river, add green space and spur private development.
What's happening: The state's transportation department recently gave approval to start preliminary construction on the cap.
- The go-ahead allows the contractor, Buckley & Company, to start moving in equipment and setting up a work zone.
- The project is a collaboration between the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, which controls the land, and local, state and private partners.
Context: While the project has been in the works since at least 2011, the debate over capping the highway began in the 1960s.
Details: The near $329 million project will replace the existing cap over I-95 and Columbus Boulevard and build a larger span from Front Street to the river and Chestnut and Walnut streets.
- The Park at Penn’s Landing, which is expected to cost an additional $95 million, will include open space for performances and festivals; food and drink options; kids' play areas; gardens; and a water-play area.
- The RiverRink will also move there.
- And approximately 400 new trees will cover the site.
One cool thing: A 13,500-square-foot carbon-neutral building — the city's first — will house an open-air pavilion, café and public bathrooms.
Plus: Part of the project includes building a new pedestrian bridge extending over Columbus Boulevard at South Street, connecting the busy commercial district to the Delaware River Trail.
The big picture: Penn's Landing is the largest of the state’s decades-long upgrades to I-95 in the region. And it's the first time the transportation department has attempted to build a park over a highway.
Be smart: During major construction and demolition, drivers will see full closures of I-95, highway ramps and Columbus Boulevard in the project area, along with overnight lane closures, the state transportation department's spokesperson Brad Rudolph tells Axios.
- The detour route will be I-676 and I-76.
What’s next: The state will hold a public meeting with the community and business owners prior to the start of large-scale construction in the spring.
- The cap project is expected to be completed in 2025, with construction on the park potentially to begin in 2026.
Go deeper: Tell the DRWC what else you want to see at the new park by taking the group’s survey on its website.
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