Philadelphia, October 28, 2015 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded the City of Philadelphia $10,265,000 in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER 7) grant money. This award will support approximately $35 million worth of infrastructure improvements in three city neighborhoods currently faced with abandoned railroads and aging roadway infrastructure, which create hazardous obstacles to daily travel needs.
“This grant will support fantastic projects across the City of Philadelphia which will ultimately improve quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor Nutter. “Earlier TIGER grants awarded to the City have led to projects like the renovation of Dilworth Park, the creation of the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, improvements to the Wayne Junction Substation and even a master plan for the Roosevelt Boulevard. The City would not have the resources to complete these projects without the partnerships it has developed with non-profit partners to secure this type of federal funding.”
As described in the grant application, called ‘Closing the Gaps’, three different projects will restore safe pedestrian and bicycle access to neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia. “Too often what separates our neighborhoods from each other is infrastructure from the past. This grant will help us close that separation for the future of our residents in communities across the City,” says Denise Goren, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU). ‘Closing the Gaps’ projects are designed to meet the travel needs of traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations that are impacted most by breaks in pedestrian and bicycle networks.
The first project, ‘Adapting American Street’, strives to reclaim a previously industrial roadway by creating a more multi-modal corridor. The project area, American Street from Girard to Lehigh Avenues, runs through numerous residential neighborhoods and is home to many elementary, middle, and high schools. Adapting American Street seeks to close the gap of accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists by removing approximately two miles of rail tracks, installing a vegetated median and crosswalks, and other landscaping, curbing, resurfacing, and traffic management work. The entire project will provide much needed improvements to pedestrian and bicyclist conditions for a road on which more than 40% of vehicle crashes from 2011 to 2013 involved pedestrians and bicyclists.
A different project in North Philadelphia and second in the ‘Closing the Gaps’ application, called ‘Over the Rails’, looks to restore continuous access to Westmoreland Street by removing a hazardous, elevated pedestrian footbridge and constructing a new multi-purpose road and bridge. This area was once the site of active rail lines that split Westmoreland Street, but they are now abandoned. Today, the neighborhood is divided by this gap in the network, forcing students, commuters, bicyclists and pedestrians to decide between either taking a hazardous or circuitous route to complete their daily travel needs. This project directly addresses the quality of life in a neighborhood in which, in 2014 more than 680 police incidents occurred, by removing a pedestrian bridge long associated with crime.
“The Westmoreland St. project is a huge win for residents of this pocket of North Philadelphia. This new roadway will promote multi-modal neighborhood connectivity and remove a safety and security risk that is a major blighting influence in the community,” said David J. Perri, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Streets Department.
The final ‘Closing the Gaps’ application project, located in West Philadelphia and called ‘Over the River’, will repurpose an abandoned railroad bridge into a bicycle and pedestrian swing bridge over the Schuylkill River, closing a gap in the regional trail network. This project will serve a neighborhood in which 86% of households do not own a vehicle by providing a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facility that connects the City’s network of regional trails. The Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) will partner with the City to administer this project.
“SRDC is thrilled to learn of this grant which will allow for the important river crossing connecting the existing Grays Ferry Crescent trail to the soon-to-be constructed Bartram’s Mile trail. This will be a big step forward for the Schuylkill River Trail and we look forward to assisting the City in any way possible,” said Joseph Syrnick, President & CEO, Schuylkill River Development Corporation.
“The Philadelphia Streets Department is extremely gratified that the City, working with our partners at PennDOT and SRDC, has continued to be successful in competing for TIGER funding to support multimodal transportation infrastructure. The improvements this funding supports will enhance mobility and access, recreational opportunities and neighborhood quality of life across a broad geographic area and communities representing a wide range of social and demographic character. We commend the selection committee for recognizing how the ‘Closing the Gaps’ proposal equally exemplified the themes of ladders of opportunity and the focus on improving the state of good repair for a selection of key roads and bridges in the City,” said Michael A. Carroll, Deputy Commissioner of the Streets Department.