A conversation on the future of I-95 took place on thursday at the Academy of Natural Sciences, in a panel discussion about Urban Highways and how city's are addressing them in the 21st Century. City planners, official and residents attended the discussion forum titled, "Re-imagining Urban Highways," and focused on the question of whether Philadelphia will choose to rebuild or re-imagine the three-mile stretch of Interstate-95, which divides the city from the Delaware River waterfront, in the near future.
On hand was Executive Director Diana Lind of Next American City to explain what Philadelphia should think about before rebuilding 51 miles of I-95 that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has scheduled for construction. PennDOT plans to reconstruct the sections of I-95 between the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges toward the final stages of its highway renewal project by around 2026.
NY West-side Highway
The discussion explored other options for how we can manage traffic if I-95 were not to be rebuilt. Rethinking the regions transportation options and considering a less car dependent society and opting for light rail and possibly a grand boulevard scenario with less lanes than the current 8 lane Interstate may fair to be a better solution. Two precedents are New York's West Side Highway and where I-95 merges into US-1 in Miami ending in Key West. Even though the boulevard is still wide at 6 lanes in Miami, it allows for a more fluid connection of the communities on either side of the highway. The New York boulevard enables pedestrian access to newly formed riverfront parks, festival piers, and view of the river from Development lining the highway.
What will be done still remains the question, but citizens can only hope that city officials make the wise decision to make some drastic changes.
Miami US-1 with elevated metro adjacent