Updates on I95 rebuild project
VIRTUAL MEETINGS FOR THE I-95 GIRARD AVENUE INTERCHANGE (GIR) PROJECT
PennDOT invites Northern Liberties residents, business owners, and employees to attend one of two upcoming community meetings to learn about the next phase of the GIR avenue interchange reconstruction project. There will be a project presentation and a Q&A.
VIRTUAL MEETING #1
November 29, 2022 – 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Link to the meeting: bit.ly/95Meeting1
VIRTUAL MEETING #2
November 30, 2022 – 6:30-8:00 PM
Link to the meeting: bit.ly/95Meeting2
POPLAR STREET CONNECTOR
The NLBID supports re-establishing Poplar Street, which is currently divided by I95, as a connector to the arterials of Front, Spring Garden, and Delaware Avenue. We believe this will provide convenience for residents and reduce confusion and frustration for visitors. PennDOT’s initial study of this proposal suggests it will not add to traffic counts on Poplar.
Please fill out the PennDOT survey on this proposal and share your feelings on this new connection.
A STATEMENT FROM THE NLBID ON OUR VISION FOR I-95
The Northern Liberties Business Improvement District (NLBID) exists to serve and strengthen the neighborhood. The NLBID regularly hears from businesses and residents about pressing problems they would like us to work on. Parking is among the issues we hear about most.
Neighbors don’t always agree about what, if anything, should be done – but everyone knows parking demand is incredibly high and parking is a constant subject of complaint. Neighborhood data and surveys show that car ownership rates are higher in Northern Liberties than in other peer neighborhoods, and that parking is a top-priority issue for residents, business owners, visitors, and employees. The pressure will only increase with more than 5,000 new apartments coming online, about 2,000 of them within a block or two of I-95.
Earlier this year, the NLBID proposed a potential solution: create parking through the impending reconstruction of I-95 by the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT). By taking the parts of the highway currently on solid dirt and rebuilding them on structural columns, new space could be created underneath.
In conversations with PennDOT, residents, elected officials, and the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, it became clear that this reconfiguration could also create new green and community space, improve bike and pedestrian connections, and enable SEPTA’s Spring Garden Station to become ADA-compliant.
Many residents live near I-95, some within 15 feet of the highway embankment. It is understandable that these residents do not wish to have the highway reconfigured. We have heard near neighbors’ concerns and objections – and we are listening. We understand that some near neighbors feel that by raising the idea, the BID disregarded the impact that such a change would have on their homes and quality of life.
It is very important to us to stress that the BID did not propose this idea believing that it would harm near neighbors. The members of the BID board charged with exploring this idea are themselves residents of Northern Liberties, most having lived here for 20-45 years, and one having been born and raised here. As residents, they have endured tremendous change, construction, and disruption, and they do not take such impacts lightly. The BID made the I-95 proposal based on a good-faith belief that it could be designed and implemented in a way beneficial to everyone.
The BID always wants to help solve problems. From street sweeping to new trash and recycling receptacles, to an intensive neighbor-engagement process for improving 2nd and Laurel, to the long-term 2nd Street Vision Plan, to storefront improvements and reduced commercial vacancies, to individualized help to businesses and residents with city bureaucracy and sidewalk improvements, the NLBID wants to make things better.
When opportunities arise to make a dent in a neighborhood problem, we must be able to float ideas, and discuss and consider them as a community. That is the only way we can surface all the issues and arrive at good solutions.
Though economic vibrancy is essential to our mission, the BID’s programs – street cleaning, bike racks, short dump management, and now private security – serve residents, visitors, and businesses alike. Everyone benefits when the commercial corridors and nearby residential streets are cleaner and more active. We know there is a version of I-95 that can maintain quality of life for near neighbors while addressing problems of connection, bike and pedestrian transit, parking, and more. The NLBID is committed to work collaboratively with the NLNA and neighbors to find win-win solutions to these problems.
The website for construction updates and timelines is https://95revive.com/project-areas/gir-girard-avenue-interchange/gir-overview/
Timeline of community engagement:
OCTOBER 2021: First steering committee meeting restricted to community leaders. NLNA and NLBID in attendance
DECEMBER 2022: Second steering committee meeting restricted to community leaders. NLNA and NLBID in attendance
FEBRUARY 2022: Third steering committee meeting restricted to community leaders. NLNA and NLBID in attendance. NLBID publishes a digest of these meetings to its constituents of property and business owners
MAY 2022: PennDOT presented a slide deck via an NLNA hosted virtual meeting. You can review that deck HERE.
JUNE 2022: PennDOT issues an online survey collecting feedback from residents, employees, and business owners about their plans for reconstructing I95 through Northern Liberties. The results have not yet been published.
AUGUST 2022: Zoom meeting with updates from PennDot team
OCTOBER 13 2022: Near neighbor invite only meeting hosted by Representative Mary Isaacson’s office to discuss construction impacts
NOVEMBER 29&30 2022: General public meetings, details at the top of this page
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