April 30, 2012
By Kellie Patrick Gates
Progress continues on three street improvement projects designed to better link Philadelphia neighborhoods with the Central Delaware Riverfront through improved pedestrian and bicycle access, lighting, landscaping and signage.
Race Street is the project that's farthest along, with the south side portion of the project already completed. NOW PennDOT and the city's transportation and utilities department have agreed that a multi-purpose sidewalk/bikepath can, in fact, cross right over the I-95 on-ramp.
Design work for the underpass section of the Columbia Avenue Connector, which will link Fishtown to the waterfront, has been completed. PennDOT is redoing the Columbia Avenue underpass as part of its I-95 improvement project.
The newest of DRWC's connector street projects is also the largest and the most complicated: Spring Garden Street, which links Northern Liberties to the waterfront. The underpass is wide, as I-95 above has five lanes of traffic in each direction and a Frankford-Market El stop.
There has been much discussion without, yet, consensus on where a bikelane would go on an improved Spring Garden Street.
Improvements to the subway station – or more specifically, the stairs and escalators leading to and from it – are crucial not only to the success of the connector itself, but to nearby future development, including plans to attract mixed-use development to the Festival Pier site at the foot of Spring Garden.
SEPTA has recently re-done the actual station, but redoing the access to it is not on the top of the capital plan list without federal and state funding, Cutler said.
The SEPTA stop and underpass work has implications for waterfront projects, too. DRWC wants to build transit-oriented development at Festival Pier, but that stop is just not transit friendly now.