FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
130-year-old bridge will be saved from demolition and undergo renovation instead
PHILADELPHIA (April 13, 2018) – The Center City District (CCD) is pleased to provide a construction update to the Rail Park project, specifically regarding the 13th Street pedestrian bridge that will serve as the park’s primary gateway.
After a thorough examination and a review of competitive bids in concert with the city’s Streets Department, the 130-year-old railroad bridge will be renovated instead of demolished and rebuilt. This option will save time and money, preserve the character and original design plans of the park, keep the historic bridge intact and enable the park to open in early June 2018.
In response to questions raised earlier this year by the Streets Department about rust and corrosion on structural beams – discovered under a foot of earth during excavation work on the small bridge – CCD initiated a redesign, engineering and competitive bidding process for what was then planned as the demolition and replacement of the structure.
Simultaneously, CCD’s design and engineering team, led by Urban Engineers, conducted a thorough re- examination of the bridge and concluded that the stone and steel structure, which was constructed to bear the weight of railroad freight cars, is sufficient and safe for pedestrian traffic under current load conditions, if a few additional supports are added to the existing bridge. So instead of demolishing, these supports will be added as part of the renovation process to increase the load rating of the structure. Additionally, CCD will contract for annual inspections of the bridge as part of its ongoing commitment to the Rail Park. But from a cost, appearance and safety perspective, renovating rather than replacing the bridge has proved to be the best option and is now underway.
In the meantime, AP Construction, CCD’s prime contractor, who started work in October 2016, has continued finishing other work at the park, which includes pouring concrete; installing benches, platforms, trees, walkways and lighting; and completing the renovation of Noble Street from Broad to 12th street.
CCD has handled all fundraising, design and construction management for the transformation of this portion of the unused former Reading Railroad viaduct that runs from 13th Street to the south side of Callowhill Street. During the construction phase, CCD has leased the viaduct from SEPTA, which currently owns it.
Upon completion of the renovations, the CCD will turn the completed project over to the City of Philadelphia, which will own the park and maintain it through a partnership between the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Center City District and the Friends of the Rail Park. The new 25,000-square-foot linear park will provide a much-needed green amenity on the northern edge of Center City and Chinatown with walking paths, landscaping, historical information panels, lighting, seating and swinging benches.
The Center City District Foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts during final phase of construction through its “Fund the Rail Park” initiative at www.fundtherailpark.org.