Fishtown infrastructure has been in a state of construction for several years, thanks to the widening and improvements that are part of the 95Revive program. Thankfully, a majority of the construction in the area is now completed, with through-streets now open again, along with landscaping and hardscaped paths below and around the 95 structure. But things aren’t done yet, as PennDOT is moving on to the next phases of the project, moving further south into the Northern Liberties neighborhood. And as you may have guessed, we’ve got some updates for you. Let’s get a look at the areas being impacted, thanks to a community survey looking for design feedback.
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start), at the intersection of 2nd & Callowhill, which currently consists of two unwelcoming grassy banks at the base of the 95/676 ramps. This area serves mostly as a glorified off-ramp, with what is frankly a rather dangerous experience for pedestrians and cyclists. Plans here call for the reimagining of the space, with landscaping and art to fill the area that is currently fenced off. One design consists mostly of space to look at, while the other design offers a more activated presence. As you can see here, either option would be a major upgrade to the current state of affairs. These improvements would also pair nicely with the activated outdoor space across 2nd St. at a 397-unit project that just started demolition.
Heading north takes us to the intersection of 2nd & Spring Garden, which has become a key gateway to Northern Liberties and to the Delaware River Trail, thanks to the planned Spring Garden Greenway. This intersection takes a similar approach, with landscaping/art competing with a more plaza-like program on this currently desolate stretch. Thankfully, this will pair nicely with the massive 200 Spring Garden project taking place on the west side of the intersection.
Next, we make our way to the somewhat hidden SE corner of New Market & Ellen St., where a tiny slice of green should look quite a bit different in the future. This quiet street will see a similar choice, with an art-focused approach again competing with a public space-focused approach. This is by far the smallest of the intersections, though we’d imagine that the folks living on New Market will be pretty pleased once things are complete.
For our last stop, we take you to the absolutely wretched intersection at the convergence of Front St., Germantown Ave., and Laurel St. as Northern Liberties transitions into Fishtown. This spot is terrifying no matter what mode of transportation you’re using, as the ultra-wide roads and awkward pathways create a touch of anarchy on this stretch of road. Plans here call for major changes, with N. Front St. becoming a two-way road here again, along with other road alignment and multi-modal improvements. While we don’t imagine there will be too many outdoor parties under the 95 ramp, we are thrilled that this harrowing intersection is getting an absolutely crucial and necessary update.
While years of construction will be challenging for the neighborhood, all of these target areas are absolutely in dire need of some TLC. We would posit that ALL of these areas (perhaps with the exception of New Market) are best served by landscaping and art, as it requires a pretty big imagination to envision folks catching some rays between the roar of traffic and the wafting exhaust from the cars whizzing by. Either way, we are excited to see Northern Liberties and Old City get further tied together, even if the looming prospect of future construction is a bit of a bummer.