Philadelphia, PA – PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards was joined by Congressman Dwight Evans and local and elected officials at Shakespeare Park in Philadelphia today to celebrate the completion of a major improvement project to replace seven bridges and enhance public spaces over Interstate 676 in Center City.
“Finishing this project a year ahead of the original schedule speaks to the cooperative working relationship that PennDOT and its engineering and construction teams enjoyed with City administrations, the Parkway Council Foundation, and the residents of Parkway neighborhoods,” said Richards. “The improvements made here strengthen our transportation infrastructure and add to the welcoming atmosphere of this beautiful Parkway area.”
Starting construction on the $64.8 million project in early 2015, PennDOT replaced the expansive structure at 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as well as other deteriorating bridges that carry 22nd Street, 21st Street, 19th Street and 18th Street over I-676. Two pedestrian bridges over I-676 connecting Logan Circle with the Free Library, between 20th and 19th streets, and with the former Family Court building, between 19th and 18th streets, also were replaced.
In addition to replacing the deteriorating bridges, PennDOT invested significantly in upgrades to the pedestrian spaces adjacent to the bridges and along the Parkway, and improved several pedestrian crossings at intersections along the project corridor.
Exposed aggregate sidewalks provide access to Shakespeare Park, the Free Library pedestrian bridge, Pennypacker Park, and the Family Court pedestrian bridge. Both public spaces are bordered by planter boxes, trees, and shrubbery, and have been finished with decorative paver blocks and benches. New lawn areas have been planted at the center of Pennypacker Park and at the newly-covered area over I-676 on the west side of Shakespeare Park, which also now includes an amphitheater.
Five pieces of public art, including statues at Shakespeare Park, Pennypacker Park, the Miranda statue adjacent to the Franklin Institute, and the Civil War Soldiers. and Sailors monuments on the Parkway, were cleaned and refurbished.
A landscaped pedestrian plaza and bus drop-off areas were created adjacent to the Franklin Institute along Winter Street, which was relocated for safety as a “T” intersection with the Parkway. Numerous park benches also were installed along the west side of the Parkway between 20th and 22nd streets.
The seven bridges over I-676 were rebuilt in two major stages to minimize traffic impacts. The original two-span bridges, which were constructed in the late 1950s, all were replaced with single-span structures that do not require a center pier in the middle of I-676. Five bridges are owned by the City of Philadelphia and two by the state.
I-676 also was resurfaced between 18th and 22nd streets, and new lighting was installed on the undersides of the bridges.
Buckley & Company, Inc. of Philadelphia is the general contractor on the project which is financed with 100 percent federal funds. The preliminary engineering, final design and other pre-construction costs were funded with federal and state dollars.