May 14, 2024 - News

Chinatown residents recount fight against I-676 in new video

Images from the U.S. Department of Transportation's  latest video highlighting the Chinatown Stitch in Philadelphia.

Scene from the U.S. DOT's latest video on the Chinatown Stitch. Screenshot: DOT

Chinatown residents are sharing stories about how the Vine Street Expressway divided their neighborhood in a new video about capping I-676.

The big picture: Philadelphia received a $159 million federal grant this year for the massive infrastructure project — dubbed the Chinatown Stitch — to replace unsightly overpasses with new green space, create development opportunities and improve safety.

  • The video, released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is part of an ongoing series highlighting projects funded through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Catch up quick: President Biden pledged $3.3 billion for more than 130 projects in dozens of states meant to "right historical wrongs" for disadvantaged communities.

What they're saying: Several residents and advocates, including John Chin of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp., described how many people haven't felt safe crossing the freeway since the project was completed in 1991.

  • Chin cited 839 crashes in the area between 2018-2022.

Cecilia Moy Yep, the "godmother of Chinatown," says in the video that the project cost her the home she was living in.

  • "They were telling me, 'You're being evicted by eminent domain,' and I didn't even understand what that was," she says. "They started calling this house that I owned the 'Chinatown Alamo.'"

What we're watching: The project must go through multiple layers of planning before construction likely begins in 2028.

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