FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Required pedestrian bridge replacement moves park opening to later in spring 2018
PHILADELPHIA (February 6, 2018) – The Center City District (CCD) is providing this schedule update to the Rail Park project, originally slated to open in February and now expected to open in the spring
On Friday, February 2, the Center City District released bid documents for the complete replacement of the pedestrian bridge over 13th Street that will serve as the prime gateway to the new Rail Park. Rust and corrosion of structural beams, uncovered during the renovation process under a foot of earth, caused the Streets Department of the City of Philadelphia to conclude that for safety and ongoing maintenance reasons the 130-year-old railroad bridge needs to be replaced.
Over the last several months the CCD’s design and engineering team, led by Urban Engineers, has worked closely with the Streets Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation to evaluate different options and to create new construction documents for the park portion of the 13th Street bridge that were released to a dozen contractors last week as part of a competitive bidding process.
The plans call for a replacement bridge constructed with new steel support beams and concrete decking to be placed on top of the existing stone retaining walls. The existing steel girders that currently project above walking level will be removed, restored and put back in place on top of the new bridge. They will be repurposed to frame walkways and to create large planters for trees and shrubs so that the finished product will look substantially similar to what was originally designed as the primary public entrance to the park at 13th and Noble Streets by Studio Bryan Hanes, the landscape designer for the project.
Once a contractor is selected in late February, a final project schedule will be published. CCD currently anticipates that the park will open to the public later in the spring of 2018.
“While this unanticipated delay in the opening of the Rail Park is disappointing, the good news is that it will enable us to open the park at the very best time of year,” Center City District President and CEO Paul R. Levy said. “Our original construction schedule had the work being completed in February, when little would be green in the park. Spring, however, is the perfect time to open a space for the public to enjoy.”
In the meantime, AP Construction, CCD’s prime contractor, who started work in October 2016, will continue their finishing work on the park, installing all benches, walkways, lighting and completing the renovation of Noble Street from Broad to 12th Street. As soon as the weather breaks in early spring, final landscaping and the park walkways and benches will be installed on the elevated viaduct.
CCD has handled all the fundraising, design and construction management for the transformation of this portion of the former, dilapidated former Reading Railroad viaduct that runs from 13th Street to the south side of Callowhill Street. During the construction phase, CCD has leased the viaduct from SEPTA, which currently owns it. Upon completion of the improvements, the CCD will turn the completed project over to the City of Philadelphia, which will own the park and maintain it through a partnership between the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Center City District and the Friends of the Rail Park. The new 25,000-square-foot linear park will provide a much-needed green amenity on the northern edge of Center City and Chinatown with walking paths, landscaping, historical information panels, lighting, seating and swinging benches.
The portion of the bridge that carries vehicles on Noble Street over 13th Street will remain in place and be replaced by the Philadelphia Streets Department at a later date after the park has opened.
The Center City District Foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts during final phase of construction through its “Fund the Rail Park” initiative at www.fundtherailpark.org.
The Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions. Find us at www.centercityphila.org and on Facebook and Twitter