Wednesday evening officials unveiled plans for a 10-acre, riverfront park to replace a school bus parking lot in Bridesburg.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Delaware River City Corporation (DRCC) collaborated on the planning process, which was funded by the William Penn Foundation. Locus Partners, a Philadelphia-based architecture and landscape architecture firm, prepared the final design concept and master plan for the park, which will cost about $5 million to build.
The park will come to Bridesburg as a welcome hitchhiker on the long, arduous journey to extend Delaware Avenue.
Last week, city officials finally celebrated the completion of the first phase of that project, which extended Delaware Avenue 0.6 miles and over the Frankford Creek to connect Lewis Street to Orthodox Street.* Federal funding for the $14.5 million project was secured back in 2005. In 2011, a dispute between the City and the Delaware River Port Authority threatened to derail the entire extension. Construction finally began in the spring of 2014 after delays caused by soil conditions.
Next to the new roadway, the Philadelphia Streets Department built a six-foot-wide sidewalk on one side and a multi-use asphalt trail on the other.
That trail is a new link in the The Circuit, the region’s more than 300-mile long network of recreational trails, which advocates hope will grow to 750 miles. It also connects to the East Coast Greenway, a growing system of bicycle trails that along the East Coast.
The proposed park, which still awaits environmental studies and final design, will serve as a trailhead, says DRCC Executive Director Tom Branigan. Construction remains three to four years away and construction funding still need to be secured.
DRCC also plans streetscape improvements to Orthodox Street and Richmond Street to make the walk or bike ride to the park more inviting for Bridesburg residents.
According to Streets Department officials, the Delaware Avenue extension should relieve heavy truck traffic on Richmond Street. Industrial uses dominate most of the area surrounding the extension and the proposed park.
Branigan doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon. “Our intention is not to move industry out but to coexist with industry,” he said.
Delaware Avenue will extend next to Buckius Street; construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and finish in 2018. After that, the Streets Department will hand off the project to PennDOT, which will extend Delaware Avenue over the Old Frankford Creek into Tacony as part of its I-95 reconstruction project. That’s tentatively scheduled to wrap up in 2021.