This past October the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and the City of Philadelphia held a public meeting about the new design proposed for Penn’s Landing. This was a chance for city residents to hear the latest on the project, offer ideas on how to use the new public spaces, and learn how to continue to be a part of the Waterfront’s transformation.
This Interstate 95 project includes the reconstruction and expansion of a new bridge over I-95 that will support a new 12-acre riverfront civic space, the extension of South Street Pedestrian Bridge, and the construction of a portion of the Delaware River Trail.
Lizzie Woods, vice president of Planning & Capital Programs for the DRWC, told us that the feedback they received at the public meeting was largely positive. “People were pleased to see the progress that had been made on the design and were eager to give ideas for programming and activities that could be part of the new park. We received some questions about access to the space, including parking and bicycle access that we hope to address in the next few months,” she said.
DRWC foresees The Park at Penn’s Landing will be a truly transformative space. “We hope it incorporates everything that makes the Waterfront special now – the spectacular views, the diversity of audiences it serves, the fun activities – while providing a space that is more accessible, flexible, and beautiful than what is there now,” said Woods. Design is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2021 with the park opening in 2024. There are no budget concerns at the moment.
The new park at Penn’s Landing will be built between Chestnut and Walnut Streets, Front Street, and the Delaware River in conjunction with the construction of a new cap over I-95 and Columbus Boulevard. Funding is from PennDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the City, and philanthropic partners including the William Penn Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The preliminary engineering phase is complete, and the project is moving into the final design phase.
The Master Plan for the Central Delaware aims to increase access to the Waterfront for residents and visitors alike. The successful renovation of Cherry Street Pier and creation of Spruce Street Harbor Park have proven that public access to the river is vital to the community, local economy, and the city.
DRWC selected a team led by PennPraxis and that includes Little Giant Creative, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC), Make the World Better Foundation, and the Village of Arts & Humanities “to ensure that Philadelphians from every neighborhood and background are part of the process, and that they see their input reflected in the park when it opens. The process includes public meetings, focus groups, online and social media, and other in-person activities that will take place both at the Waterfront and at events in other parts of the city,” added Woods.
This project is working under an aggressive schedule, according to Woods, especially by the standards of major highway infrastructure projects, and involves the coordination with numerous stakeholders. Keeping to the schedule while managing the needs and concerns of the stakeholders is a priority.
DRWC’s public outreach on the project will continue over the next year as the design of the park is finalized. Meeting materials are available at parkatpennslanding.com with a link to leave a comment or ask a question as well. DRWC will continue to gather feedback left there, as well as feedback they get as they talk about the park across the city at different events and in different neighborhoods over the next few months. DRWC wants Philadelphians across the city to get involved to ensure this park reflects all of Philadelphia.