Work starts on extending Delaware Avenue

The pro­ject aims to re­lieve traffic con­ges­tion and provide bet­ter ac­cess to the Delaware River.

  • Tom Branigan, executive director of Delaware River City Corporation, Joe Slabinksi, president of Bridesburg Business Association, Harry Enggasser of the Bridesburg Civic Association, Councilman Bobby Henon and Mayor Michael Nutter break ground for the Delaware Avenue Extension. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

  • Mayor Michael Nutter addresses residents and city officials at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Delaware Avenue Extension project in Bridesburg. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Ko­mar

For Star

Com­munity mem­bers and city of­fi­cials came to­geth­er last Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at a ground­break­ing ce­re­mony to com­mence con­struc­tion of the first phase of the Delaware Av­en­ue Ex­ten­sion Pro­ject, which will ex­tend the ex­ist­ing Delaware Av­en­ue to Bridge Street.

“We’re here today to cel­eb­rate the ground­break­ing ce­re­mony for the ex­cit­ing new pro­ject for Phil­adelphia, the Delaware Av­en­ue Ex­ten­sion in Brides­burg,” said Dav­id Perri, com­mis­sion­er of the De­part­ment of Streets.

Sev­er­al or­gan­iz­a­tions will be in­volved in con­struct­ing the first part of the road, which will be about 0.6 miles long, run­ning from Lewis Street to Or­tho­dox Street when com­plete.

“The bridge of the pro­ject was de­signed by the city’s own streets de­part­ment, the road­way por­tion of the pro­ject was de­signed by the Phil­adelphia en­gin­eer­ing firm of Urb­an En­gin­eers, and the con­struc­tion of this pro­ject will be com­pleted by the Phil­adelphia-based heavy con­struc­tion firm of Buckley and Com­pany,” Perri said.

Perri was joined by May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, City Coun­cil­man Bobby Hen­on and Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion chair­man and former con­gress­man Bob Bor­ski to cel­eb­rate what has been, ac­cord­ing to both of­fi­cials and com­munity lead­ers, a long-awaited day.

“This has been a long day com­ing, es­pe­cially for the neigh­bors and busi­nesses of Brides­burg and the con­nect­ing com­munit­ies, and this is here be­cause of your per­sist­ence and vis­ion and dream that con­gress­man Bor­ski had put in place a long time ago,” Hen­on said.

Al­though the main goal of the pro­ject is to re­lieve traffic con­ges­tion from Brides­burg and the sur­round­ing com­munit­ies, the road and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing trail to be built along­side it will provide bet­ter ac­cess to the Delaware River.

“It adds as a con­nect­or to our most pre­cious re­source, and that’s our Phil­adelphia wa­ter­front,” Hen­on said. 

Bor­ski, who is cred­ited with the ori­gin­al plan be­hind the Delaware Av­en­ue Ex­ten­sion Pro­ject, said “I-95 came along at an­oth­er time and took the river away, and we’re here today put­ting an­oth­er piece back. This is ab­so­lutely a game-changer for Brides­burg and for North­east Phil­adelphia.”

Nut­ter thanked the res­id­ents of Brides­burg for their pa­tience and in­volve­ment in the pro­ject.

“I want to thank the res­id­ents of Brides­burg and oth­er com­munity mem­bers once again, not just for their in­volve­ment, but their com­mit­ment, their ded­ic­a­tion, their fo­cus, their push to make sure that all of us do what we’re sup­posed to do.  It is be­cause of that in­put that we were able to push that much harder to get the ne­ces­sary fund­ing,” Nut­ter said.

The fund­ing, ac­cord­ing to the streets de­part­ment, com­prises 80 per­cent fed­er­al funds and 20 per­cent city cap­it­al funds, total­ing $11.2 mil­lion. 

Con­struc­tion of the pro­ject began last week and is es­tim­ated to be com­pleted by Novem­ber 2015.

Ac­cord­ing to Dar­in Gatti, the Streets De­part­ment’s chief en­gin­eer, the com­pleted road will in­clude a 30-foot-wide cart­way, a 6-foot-wide side­walk on one side, and a 12-foot-wide ped­es­tri­an and bi­cycle path on the oth­er side with street light­ing, land­scap­ing, storm­wa­ter and wa­ter main fa­cil­it­ies. A new bridge, span­ning 160 feet, will be built over the Frank­ford Creek. 

The pro­ject will gen­er­ate about 100 con­struc­tion jobs, ac­cord­ing to the streets de­part­ment.

Aside from re­liev­ing traffic from the sur­round­ing area, Nut­ter said the road would im­prove res­id­en­tial life in the area, stat­ing, “The road and the ac­com­pa­ny­ing trail will provide a vi­tal link in the city of Phil­adelphia’s lar­ger bi­cycle and walk­ing path net­work.”

Joe Slab­in­ski, pres­id­ent of both the Brides­burg Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation and the Brides­burg Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, re­called the ini­tial idea for the plan long ago.

“This pro­ject was born out of con­gress­man Bob Bor­ski’s plan,” Slab­in­ski said.

While the time to get to this point has not been brief, Slab­in­ski is happy that the road is be­ing built, stat­ing, “We are thrilled that this is fi­nally com­ing to the com­munity and it means a lot. Every­one is ex­tremely ex­cited. It’s fi­nally star­ted, and every­one is mov­ing in the right dir­ec­tion.” ••

Melissa Ko­mar can be reached at mak0721@ve­r­i­

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