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Water Department sets its sights on greening and transit in Yorktown

Stormwater planter

Why stop at stormwater? The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is about to bring a total overhaul to the streets of Yorktown. With help from an $800,000 grant, the neighborhood is getting stormwater planters, new bus shelters, bike lanes, wider pedestrian islands and ten new ADA ramps.

PWD has been in conversation with the Yorktown Community Development Corporation and its partners since 2012 about the initiative, known as the Yorktown Green and Complete Streets project. They see it as a holistic effort that goes beyond greening. 

Ariel Ben-Amos, transportation liaison for PWD's Green Infrastructure Partnership Program, calls it the Water Department’s "triple bottom line." Adding a mile of bike lanes to the existing Philly network, as well as two new bus shelters (one at 11th and Girard, the other at 12th and Master), and 27 stormwater-catching planters along 12th and 13th Streets, "impacts people not only from an environmental perspective, but from a social perspective, and makes sense economically as well," he explains.

In addition to the investment in good stormwater infrastructure -- which helps relieve the city's over-burdened combined sewer system in compliance with the Clean Water Act -- the project will make it easier for people to walk, bike and access transit in the neighborhood, giving the whole area a boost. The new bike lanes will run on 11th and 13th Streets from Girard to Cecil B. Moore Avenues.

"One of the great things is that as you invest in neighborhood greening, you’re also investing in the homes and the values of the neighborhoods as well," adds Ben-Amos.

Jessica Noon, who manages the Green Infrastructure Partnership Program, says PWD knew the design it had "wasn’t something that we could fund on our own"; they applied for a grant through PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Multimodal Transportation Fund. The $831,360 PWD received was a piece of $84 million distributed to 86 projects state-wide, and PWD will contribute an additional $300,000 of its own matching funds for the project.

While at this point it’s not possible to make any guarantees about the timeline for completion, Ben-Amos says PWD could begin construction as soon as August, with an early goal of completion by the end of 2015.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Ariel Ben-Amos and Jessica Noon, Philadelphia Water Department

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