Delaware Avenue Extension Project breaks ground

Dig­ging in: May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter speaks dur­ing the ground­break­ing ce­re­mony to com­mence the Delaware Av­en­ue Ex­ten­sion Pro­ject. MELISSA KO­MAR / FOR THE TIMES

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.

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,” said Dav­id Perri, com­mis­sion­er of the De­part­ment of Streets.

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.”

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.” ••

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