The first phase of capping Interstate 676 has been funded and approved, but many people believe that this phase should go further. As part of a $120 million PennDOT project to revamp the western section of Interstate 676, a small section of the highway will be capped. Although this sounds great, and it is definitely better than nothing, it is definitely a missed opportunity. The project is focused on improving the auto bridges that run over the Vine Street Expressway. The section that is being capped is on the northwest corner of Logan Square, a public space that was dramatically impacted by the building of the highway. The top quarter of the park was turned into a highway canyon because of the auto-centric thinking of city planners decades ago.
When Chuck Davies, an Assistant District Executive for Design at PennDOT was asked about this situation, he stated that PennDOT will “be able to cover up that one area. It’s a small thing, although not insignificant in cost. It was easy, I guess… We’re willing to vastly improve the streetscape, the hardscape, the landscape in a way that made the entire area better. But we felt the expansion of these covers just wasn’t the appropriate kind of work for this project… There was always the understanding that [capping the rest of Logan Square] would cost significantly more than what we had on hand… It’s already a $120 million [project]. It’s an extra expense we couldn’t bear and one that’s not really appropriate for these types of dollars.”
Although we will try to focus on the fact that the capping of 676 is set to begin, it is hard to not think of this as a missed opportunity. This seems like the perfect time to cap all of Logan Square while traffic is already being interrupted to repair the bridges.
This project will likely not begin until 2015 as bids for the project will reportedly go out in December. Does this leave us enough time to start ringing the phones of Barry Schoch, the PA Secretary of Transportation and our other representatives to try to get them to add funding to cap the remaining 3 giant holes in Logan Square?
If you are in support of the cause and would like to make a difference, below are some points of contact. Please reach out and be vocal as the public’s voice needs to be heard!
Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia:
– Phone: (215) 686-2181
– Email: email@example.com
– Office Address:
– Phone: (717) 214-4035 Ask to speak to Barry Schoch or the most senior person available so that your voice is heard
– PennDOT Web Contact Form
– Office Address:
This is by no means an attack on PennDOT nor the Mayor’s office. All contact should be made in a professional matter. We just need to let our public officials know that capping 676 and giving Logan Square back to the people is a priority for the citizens of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Unless we speak up, we will not be heard. Let’s all work together to make this vision become a reality!