Updated at 5:30 pm
The I-95 cap project is damn near funded.
Through spokesman Brad Rudolph, deputy communications director of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the agency confirmed to Billy Penn this afternoon that it plans to commit $100 million to the cap, which would cover the multilane interstate highway from Chestnut to Walnut Streets, and a park that will slope down toward the Delaware River. Plans for the cap have been awaiting funding for decades, and got a huge boost this week when Mayor Jim Kenney told PlanPhilly that the city will allocate $90 million toward the project.
Penn’s Landing Park should cost an estimated $225 million. A Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) spokeswoman later clarified that part of this cost was chipped off when PennDOT allocated a $10 million grant for a feasibility study and early work for the project.
“After developing the Penn’s Landing concept as part of the Master Plan, DRWC worked with the City of Philadelphia, PennDOT, and philanthropic sources to advocate for the full funding,” Tom Corcoran, the President of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, said through a spokeswoman. “There is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconnect Penn’s Landing back to the Old City and the historic district”
Later on Thursday, the William Penn Foundation provided Billy Penn with a statement on their grant for the park. The foundation is committing “up to $15 million.”
With PennDOT’s and the William Penn Foundation’s new commitments, that leaves only $10 million until the project is fully funded.
“We are pleased to join the city, state and Delaware River Waterfront Corporation in their efforts to realize this vision of creating a new, regional recreation destination,” William Penn Foundation Executive Director Shawn McCaney said, per the statement. “However, there is more work to be done before we reach the finish line. We will support DRWC in its efforts to fill the remaining fundraising gap and invite other partners to join us at the table.”
In 2014, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation released their feasibility study, including renderings for the park, that indicated the project would generate $1.6 billion in economic impact to the area.
Cities around the U.S. have considered design options for their freeways, widely criticized among urbanists for the disruption they prove to walkability, and the mass demolitions (and displacement) that occurred to make way for the expressways. Some cities have opted to convert highways into tighter boulevards, but highway cap parks are indeed a thing, with famous examples found in Boston and Dallas.