RFP goes out for Spring Garden Connector project, plus other riverfront project updates

An RFP went out this week seeking a designer for the Spring Garden Connector project –  improvements with the goal of making walking or biking from Northern Liberties to the waterfront a more pleasant experience. See the RFP here.

The RFP will remain open for bids for four weeks, after which the “short list” of candidates will be interviewed. DRWC Planner Lizzie Woods said the goal is to bring the staff recommendation to the board for a vote at the December meeting. The design and permitting process will likely take about six months, so the hope is that construction begins next summer.

The work will stretch from Delaware Avenue/Columbus Boulevard to 2nd Street, with much of the project focused on the area beneath the huge I-95 overpass. The design will have to take into consideration that the overpass is going to be redone in about five years as part of the Revive 95 project. DRWC is hopeful that many of the elements can be stored for inspection, and then put back once the highway work is completed.

“It was the same with the Race Street Connector,” said DRWC Project Manager/Planner Karen Thompson. At Race Street, the metalwork along the sides of the overpass is far enough from the walls to allow an inspector to get in, Thompson said. If for some reason removing the metalwork was necessary, it can be removed without damaging it, and then reinstalled, she said.

In other DRWC project news:
-Work began Thursday on the new section of trail behind the Sheet Metal Workers Union in South Philadelphia. Due to some right-of-way issues, this part of the trail was originally made with lines through a parking lot. Those issues have been resolved, and the work to bring the trail riverside will be finished in a couple weeks, Woods said.
-A public meeting to determine just what the public wants from the park to be built on Pier 53 will be held in early November. The exact date has not been set. The uplands portion of the pier property has already been turned into a park: Washington Avenue Green. Both WAG and the future park are part of the larger wetlands park area DRWC envisions for the southern end of the Central Delaware, and will provide public access to the river, either on the old pier itself or on a boardwalk of sorts suspended over it, or perhaps a combination. The hope is that DRWC will be able to show this project so greatly improves the environment that state and federal regulating bodies will allow other entities to meet environmental remediation orders by helping to pay for other DRWC wetland projects. See previous coverage.
-DRWC is also working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to remove invasive, non-native plants from the southern portion of the riverfront trail. “There is a whole bunch of knot weed,” Woods said. Other troublesome plants are being identified and will be removed.  By the end of the year, PHS will have installed several new seating areas along the southern end of the trail, and new plantings will be put in next spring.
-Further north, near SugarHouse Casino, DRWC is in the final permitting stage for the construction of the Penn Street portion of the trail. SugarHouse has agreed to build a second portion from the end of this segment through the casino parking lot, connecting to the existing trail section the casino built on the riverside of their property. DRWC Project Manager Karen Thompson said the construction of this part of the trail is expected to begin in February, and it is set for a Memorial Day weekend opening.

Contact the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com

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