If you live in the Riverwards, you’ve experienced the long rebuilding process of Interstate 95. Recently, the strip of the highway that runs through Fishtown was completed. Unfortunately, the highway was widened. But, the project included some new public spaces surrounding and underneath the interstate. The next stretch of I-95 to be renovated runs through Northern Liberties. This stage will also include some updates to land surrounding the highway and the reconfiguration of one of the worst intersections in Philadelphia.
There are four locations that PennDOT is currently seeking community feedback on in anticipation of this phase of the 95Revive mega project – the intersection of 2nd and Callowhill, the intersection of 2nd and Spring Garden, the intersection of New Market and Ellen, and the area underneath the highway at Front and Laurel. We’ll start on the south end and work our way north, giving you information about each of these sites and the options PennDot is exploring for each.
First up is the intersection of 2nd and Callowhill. The east side of this intersection currently holds two large, un-utilized patches of grass on both the north and south side. The intersection itself is terrible for all modes of transportation. The three lane I-95 offramp merges with three lanes of 2nd Street automobile traffic and a bike lane on the north / west axis. These lanes intersect three lanes of automobile traffic running east / west on Callowhill Street.
PennDot plans on creating a sidewalk-level protected bike lane along 2nd Street and adding speed cushions on the pedestrian crosswalks. They will also turn the grass lots on the east side of the intersection into publicly accessible spaces with built-in stormwater management infrastructure. PennDot has presented two different design concepts for this intersection, which are pictured above. It’s also worth noting that a 23-story, 397-unit, mixed-use project is planned on the northwest corner of the intersection. Demolition is currently underway for that development.
The next site is just north at 2nd and Spring Garden Street. If you go by this intersection today, you’ll see a massive building under construction. Work is underway here on a 14-story, 355-unit, mixed-use building. Steel work is currently in progress on the 8th floor of this project. This building already has a massive presence, and that presence will continue to grow over the coming months.
Right across the street from the project, on the southeast corner of 2nd and Spring Garden, you’ll also notice an underutilized, fenced-off patch of grass next to the highway. PennDot plans on adding stormwater management infrastructure, hardscaping, and landscaping to this space, transforming it into a new public mini park. PennDot has proposed two concepts for this site, which can bee seen above.
The third site is on a road less traveled at the intersection of New Market Street and Ellen Street – just south of Jerry’s Bar. There’s a fenced-off, triangular patch of grass on the southeast corner of this intersection in the middle of a residential block. PennDot plans on adding stormwater management on this plot and landscaping it. They may also add public seating. From the renderings, it looks like they will bump out the curb to make it easier for pedestrians to cross New Market Street. You’ll see that one of the two concepts leaves the site fenced off.
The fourth and final site is one of the worst intersections in Philadelphia – right underneath I-95 and the El where Front, Germantown, and Laurel converge. There’s a large, blighted swatch of land under the highway here that PennDot plans on hardscaping. They also plan on reconfiguring the intersection, adding a traffic light, and removing some of the automobile access ways – thus making the pedestrian island on the northwest corner of the intersection larger and more programmed. PennDot states that they also plan on relocating the SEPTA substation currently located at the intersection and adding vehicle parking under the highway to the north of the intersection.
We’re thrilled to see some attention being given to some of these underutilized spaces – although we would still like to see more information about the plans for the reconstruction of I-95 as a whole. We’re definitely most exited about the reconfiguration of the Front, Laurel, and Germantown intersection, as it’s currently a hellscape.
How do you feel about the plans? Which concept do you like most for each site? Let your voice be heard by filling out PennDot’s survey and give them some feedback.
Kyle is a commercial real estate agent at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients buy and sell multifamily investment properties, development opportunities, and industrial sites.
Email Kyle@RittenhouseRealty.com if you are looking to buy or sell a property