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Funding for phase one of the Reading Viaduct Rail Park is finally on the way

Rendering of the 13th Street overpass in daylight

Renderings of the Rail Park

A rendering of Rail Park

Renderings of the Rail Park at Broad Street

Rendering of the 13th Street overpass at night

For just over a decade now, Sarah McEneaney and John Struble, an artist and furniture-maker respectively, have been campaigning to transform North Philly's old Reading Viaduct into a stunning elevated park.

Their inspiration -- like that of so many other urban rail-to-park projects that have popped up across the country -- was the celebrated rehabilition of the High Line in Manhattan.
And while McEneaney and Struble had been specifically focused on developing the quarter-mile section of rail that curves through the Loft District east of Broad, they've since teamed up with another pro-rail park group -- originally known as Viaduct Green, and now referred to as Friends of the Rail Park -- who've had their eyes on the railroad's entire three-mile stretch since 2010.
According to McEneaney, the two organizations are now collectively known as Friends of the Rail Park. And thanks to their years-long fundraising and grassroots letter-writing efforts -- along with donations from the William Penn Foundation and Poor Richard's Charitable Trust -- the first phase of the railway's development (the aforementioned quarter-mile spur east of Broad) is inching closer to groundbreaking. McEneaney expects the shovels to hit dirt in 2015.

Following phase one's completion, the group plans to shift its focus to the railway's west-of-Broad section.

In the meantime, Friends of the Rail Park are still actively raising funds for the project's capital costs and maintenance. After the spur's completion, the organization will transpose into a voluntary friends group responsible for the park's upkeep. Center City District will be managing the construction of the elevated Rail Park, which will then fall under the purview of the Fairmount Park Commission.
To donate to the cause or view a mini-documentary on the Rail Park produced by Good Motion Project, visit therailpark.org.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Sarah McEneaney, Friends of the Rail Park

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