Philadelphia — Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf joined PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Janet Haas of the William Penn Foundation for a funding announcement and update on the future reconstruction of Interstate 95 in the city. With the reconstruction of I-95, built in the 1970s, connections are being restored between the Delaware River waterfront and the rest of the city.
Since 1997, PennDOT has been investing in rebuilding and improving the 51-mile I-95 corridor in southeastern Pennsylvania. Currently, $1.7 billion is programmed to complete the rebuilding of I-95 between Cottman Avenue and Interstate 676, the Vine Street Expressway. These improvements have included mitigation to improve the aesthetics for neighborhoods where the viaducts carrying I-95 are located and which were greatly impacted by the original construction 50 years ago.
Over the next decade, an upcoming phase of the reconstruction project is a $3 billion to $4 billion investment to rebuild the five-mile stretch, a portion already below ground but mostly on viaduct, between I-676 and Broad Street in South Philadelphia, but all of which impacts the city’s connection to the Delaware River. On the north end of this section, at Penn’s Landing, a new and expanded cap over I-95 will reconnect Penn’s Landing to the city. On the south end of this section, the reconstruction project will improve access to the growing Philadelphia port complex.
The state, city, and foundation will partner on underwriting the $225 million cost of replacing and expanding the existing cap over I-95 and Christopher Columbus Boulevard. The project would extend the cap beyond the current boundaries between Chestnut and Walnut streets and extend it over Columbus Boulevard.
“We are showing how partnerships between the public and private sectors deliver important benefits that improve both our quality of life and economy,” Governor Wolf said. “In this case, as Interstate 95 will be rebuilt, we have partnered with the city and the William Penn Foundation to restore and enhance the river’s connection to Center City.”
“By the private and public sectors partnering and sharing the cost for the cap now, we will save future state and federal highway dollars,” Richards said. “This partnership will allow us to meet our community responsibilities as we improve this critical artery, one of the busiest in the state.”
I-95 carries roughly 120,000 vehicles a day in the section between I-676 and Broad Street.
The landscaping on the cap, funded by the William Penn Foundation contribution, also addresses stormwater mitigation by providing green infrastructure for water quality improvements, which ordinarily are very challenging to meet in urban settings.
The state is committing $110 million, including $10 million for preliminary engineering and design, which is already underway. The city is committing $90 million and the foundation has committed $15 million with the commitment to raise the additional $10 million needed for the project.
“This three-way partnership will deliver benefits for the city while improving mobility and allowing PennDOT to meet its goals of managing transportation in an efficient and effective way,” Richards said.