Ground will break on streetscape improvements along Market Street from 34th to 41st Streets in West Philadelphia will begin in late September or early October and completed by Spring 2010, according to a group of project stakeholders led by University City Science Center at a Friends of 40th Street meeting last week.
The project, which originated out of the ReStore Philadelphia Corridors grant program under Mayor Street, will include new sidewalks, curbs, a six-foot “amenity strip” between the sidewalk and the driving lanes, greening, pedestrian lighting, sidewalk bump-outs at 40th and Market Street, and extended bike lanes on both sides of Market Street. The sidewalk pavers will have a dark grey color with a “grit” over it that will help its reflectivity.
Curt Hess, VP of Real Estate at the Science Center, reported that they were reviewing the construction proposals that week and are confident in the quality of the bids they have seen so far.
The improvement plans include many unique elements not typically found in standard streetscape plans. These include:
- “Rain gardens” designed by the Philadelphia Water Department, which will be installed in the amenity strip for stormwater retention purposes.
- Solar panel fixtures along each block of the corridor.
- Wissahickon schist, the predominant bedrock underlying the Philadelphia region, will be integrated into the sidewalk to give a nighttime sparkle as well as incorporate local historical elements.
The project represents a unique public-private partnership between the Science Center and numerous city agencies, including the Commerce and Streets Department and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. It began in summer 2007 when Third District Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell allocated $200,000 of ReStore Commercial Corridor bond money to physical improvements to 40th and Market Street following a community design process led by the Friends of 40th Street. The Science Center and its partnering organizations then agreed to offer implementation funding in order to extend the project east into its campus. This quick coalition building helped the project get an additional $1 million from the ReStore package, allocated for projects that are implemented by the end of 2009.
The Science Center, its partner companies and other companies along Market Street are contributing a total of $2 million.
There is currently $3.2 million dedicated to the project, though initial estimates say it will cost $5 million. However, Hess said he is “optimistic” about bridging the funding gap because they have proposals into other funding sources, and many similar projects have been coming in under budget recently.