‘Never say never’ was the theme that followed Wednesday’s dedication ceremony in Bridesburg. Community members and city leaders convened Wednesday to celebrate the opening of Phase 1A of the Delaware Avenue Extension project – a new 0.6 roadway and trail project built along the Delaware Riverfront Greenway in Northeast Philadelphia that has been in discussion for more than 20 years!
Phase 1A of the extension, connecting Port Richmond to Bridesburg, includes a 0.6-mile section of new roadway, a bridge over the Frankford Creek and an adjacent multi-use trail segment extending from Lewis Street to Orthodox Street.
Officials, including Mayor Nutter, Denise Goren, director of the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis, Commissioner of Streets Department David J. Perri and Former U.S. Congressman Robert Borski as well as Tom LaCroix, an active member of the Board of the Bridesburg Business Association gave remarks at the ceremony and reflected on the impact the project has already had on the Bridesburg community as well as Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter commented that the project is a “win, win, win,” providing a vital, direct route to and from I-95 for the industries, improving access to the waterfront and relieving the Bridesburg community of significant truck traffic on their neighborhood streets that has been degrading their quality of life.
And while the new road segment alleviates the truck traffic, the new multi-use trail opens opportunities for residents to broaden their own transportation choices and accommodates pedestrian crossings. As the project evolves, the trail will be used for commuters to bypass traffic congestion and ride right along the river to get to work.
Goren described the project as the first new road to open in the city in 30 years. When speaking about the new trail Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis commented on how far we’ve come, adding that trails have become an integral part of Philadelphia. The addition of a multi-use trail was an integral element, especially when considering residents’ quality of life. Residents (for decades) have requested access to the river for recreational use. Now, residents can take advantage of this unseasonably warm weather and get out on the trail!
And local residents have already seen the positive impact! A resident on Orthodox Street commented that traffic volume has decreased on his street since the road was opened in late November. The resident also observed significant more yellow school busses on Delaware Avenue. The bus operation is at the end of Orthodox Street and, prior to the opening, bus drivers had no choice but to use Orthodox and travel through the neighborhood – creating further traffic congestion! As the project evolves, a trail will be built at Magee Street, located at the back of a Charter School currently in development, allowing students from neighboring communities to use the trail to get to school.
The federally funded $14.5 million project, which broke ground last spring is yet another reminder of the power of collaboration, perseverance and vision. “This multi-layered project shows just how much progress can happen when entities, public and private, across the city collaborate,” Mayor Nutter said. The inclusion of the trail in the Delaware Avenue Extension shows that solutions for transportation challenges in Philadelphia extend beyond motorized travel. In fact, infrastructure that supports walking and biking are widely recognized as indispensable elements of projects like these.
Officials thanked the Delaware River City Corporation, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Streets Department, Urban Engineers, Buckley Company and others for their collaboration on the project.
Congressman Borski praised the Mayor for his work expanding roads and trails commenting:
“This is a great day for Philadelphia and particularly for Bridesburg and Port Richmond. A big part of Philadelphia being a world class city are world class neighborhoods. To have this beautiful trail – the connector to the rest of Delaware Avenue – is nothing short of a miracle.”
And this project is just the beginning for what’s to come in Bridesburg. Phase 1B, set to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2018, will continue the extension of Delaware Avenue north from Orthodox to Buckius Street – creating a mile of new trail and roadway in total. By 2020, officials hope to see Delaware Avenue extended as far as the Frankford Boat Launch, where it is planned to link with I-95. When the project is complete, there will be 11 miles of new trail stretching from Allegheny to Grant Avenue!
Residents are looking forward to using the piece just built that will connect Bridesburg to Port Richmond. As the trail gets pushed north into the Frankford Boat Launch, it will connect Bridesburg and Port Richmond to a recreational park. The Wissinoming, Port Richmond and Bridesburg neighborhoods will all have access to trail and the river.
Also in development is a new riverfront park in Bridesburg, a 10-acre park that will be connected to the Delaware Avenue Extension. Final park designs will be presented at a public community meeting next Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
Image 1: The new 0.6 mile-long trail and roadway; Image 2: Aerial view of Phase 1A of the Delaware Avenue Extension Project; Image 3: Cyclists enjoying the new trail on the Delaware Avenue Extension