The Spring Garden Street Greenway (SGSG) — a key segment of both the Circuit and the East Coast Greenway — looks a lot like it did four years ago when $800,000 was awarded to the City of Philadelphia to begin its transformation. This is not OK, and as the organizations behind this effort continue to advocate for the Greenway Philadelphia deserves, we want to provide the background to our readers and supporters to help put this project into perspective.
The story of the SGSG began when it was selected as the East Coast Greenway alignment through Philadelphia through a 2009 Center City Greenway Feasibility Study that studied many options for an east-west connection between the Delaware and Schuylkill River trails.
A 2013 assessment was conducted by Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and others with robust community outreach, resulting in a conceptual design.
In late June 2015, in response to five years of work conducted by the City and PEC, the City of Philadelphia received a $400,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Regional Trail Fund to match a $400,000 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to prepare a preliminary design of the 2.1 mile long corridor. The project was placed on the DVRPC “Transportation Improvement Program” in a line item for the Circuit, a step that provides some guarantee of construction funding when the design is complete.
Between 2015 and 2018, PEC continued its public outreach along the entire corridor, through meetings, rides, popup bike lanes, etc.
Even with the $800,000 in hand, the two grants together comprise only a portion of what the full design will cost.
Full design (both preliminary and final) is estimated to be between $3-6 million with construction currently estimated around $23-25 million in current construction dollars.
Between June 2015 and Fall 2017, the Streets Department contracted to have a “fatal flaws analysis” conducted to determine how much room was under the two spans of the old Reading Viaduct over Spring Garden Street. A survey was conducted around the two spans. The analysis was completed in Fall 2017.
Since the completion of the fatal flaws analysis, the Streets Department has been developing work orders to hire two firms to start on design: One firm will provide strategic guidance and the other will do the engineering work. DCNR provided one extension to the Streets Department for its $400K grant, which is due to expire by the end of 2019.
Even though Spring Garden Street is not on the City’s High Injury Network and the project will not be considered a Vision Zero project, it is a crucial bicycle commuting corridor that needs an upgrade and safer facilities.
In 2015, PEC reported that 21 percent of all crashes on the corridor involved bicycles. In May 2018, Pablo Avendando, a professional courier, was killed at the intersection of 10th Street.
Four years is a long time to get started on a preliminary design project and many are anxious to see movement. The Bicycle Coalition, PEC, the East Coast Greenway Alliance and Feet First Philly (FFP) met with the Streets Department in January to ascertain the progress. The work order to hire the first consultant was just approved this week.
The design process for the Spring Garden Street Greenway needs to be kicked off as soon as possible, and working with our partners at PEC, ECG and FFP, we will continue updating our readers and supporters about project updates over the summer. Look for more information and chances for advocacy through the rest of 2019.
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