On December 8, Mayor Michael Nutter and other local leaders cut the ribbon on a significant first step for the Delaware Avenue Extension
in Philly's Bridesburg neighborhood. According to Denise Goren, director of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities
, this waterfront project is the first entirely new road constructed in the city in the last 30 years.
The opening of this first phase of the project -- a .6-mile stretch of two-lane road (flanked by broad space for bikers and pedestrians) eventually slated to extend two miles -- is an important piece of Northeast Philly’s larger Delaware Riverfront Greenway
, itself a piece of the region’s burgeoning Circuit
and the East Coast Greenway
Phase 1A of the Extension is also a vital new connection between the Bridesburg and Port Richmond neighborhoods -- it runs between the river and Richmond Street, from Lewis Street in the south to Orthodox Street in the north, and includes a new bridge over the Frankford Creek. The project has been in the works for over 15 years.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor Nutter called the effort "much more than just a road project."
"All users have the right to use our roadways safely," he said of the mixed-used nature of Delaware Avenue’s new stretch; in its next phase, it will reach north between Orthodox Street and Buckius Street.
Other speakers at the event included Deputy Mayor of Environmental & Community Resources Michael DiBerardinis and former U.S. Congressperson Robert Borski (founder and chair of the Delaware River City Corporation
Tom LaCroix of the Bridesburg Business Association
also spoke, expressing gratitude for the improved safety and quality of life for Bridesburg residents that the Extension promises. It gives trucks and other industrial vehicles an easy route to I-95 without rumbling through the busy Richmond Street corridor where children are often crossing the street. It’s also a big relief to the community, which has experienced terrible traffic congestion anytime a nearby accident on I-95 rerouted highway traffic through the riverfront neighborhood.
"This is just a godsend," he insisted.
Construction on Phase 1B of the Extension is scheduled to begin in 2017; the road will open the following year.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Mayor Michael Nutter and Delaware Avenue Extension speakers