Updates on the latest plans for the I-95 Girard Avenue Interchange were the main topics of discussion at the Fishtown Neighbors Association’s monthly general meeting on Wednesday, June 15.
Attended by a couple of dozen community members and hosted over Zoom by FNA president Jon Geeting, representatives from PennDOT discussed both current and future work that will be taking place as part of the reconstruction effort and also addressed questions from the community.
With phase four of the project nearing completion, work on phases five and six is expected to begin sometime in 2023. The main focuses will be the reconstruction of I-95 northbound and southbound mainline and ramps from Race to Frankford, various surface street improvements under and along I-95, and the reconfiguration of numerous PennDOT-owned spaces under and adjacent to I-95.
One of the phase’s major surface street undertakings is a revamping of the “five points” intersection of Germantown Avenue, Laurel Street and Front Street. Adding an on-street bike lane, building a one-way loop from Laurel to Allen Street, and turning Front into a two-way street throughout are some of the renovations that will be made.
“The intersection is going to be dramatically redesigned, we think hopefully for the much better and certainly for the much safer and simpler to navigate,” said Doug Robbins, a senior planner and urban designer for AECOM.
There will also be work done to address public spaces under I-95. Robbins did note that it will need to be coordinated with both existing and future leases as well as any stormwater management needs. However, he did encourage the community to provide their input on certain spaces that aren’t occupied by leases.
“Whether it’s a trail, activity space of any kind, a general plaza, parking spaces, we actually do really want to hear what people want to use that space down there for,” Robbins said.
Additionally, efforts will be made to improve connections across I-95, as PennDOT has been partnering with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and local communities to make the changes happen. Notable upgrades will include new sidewalks, fresh LED lighting, refurbished wall decorum and bike lanes.
Robbins also noted that constructing efficient stormwater management facilities has been a major part of I-95 public spaces. Based on the work that has already been during previous phases of the interchange, he’s hopeful that more of the same will occur as the project continues.
“We’ve been very proud of what we’ve been able to do, especially in comparison to many other highway projects in the state and beyond, around using partnerships and others to really make the most of the stormwater facilities and make them places that we hope people don’t mind living next to,” Robbins said.
Public spaces under I-95 that have been refurbished as part of phases three and four of GIR, which focused on northbound I-95 between Columbia Avenue and Ann Street, are expected to be open to the public by the fall. Robbins expects an overall maintenance agreement with the city to be finalized in the near future.