Is it time for I-95 overpass to go?
I-95 is due for some scheduled maintenance. The stretch between the Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin Bridges is up soon, and many big dreamers see this as an opportunity not simply to renovate the existing road, but to replace it with something else entirely. NewsWorks readers have been weighing in on a story from WHYY's Carolyn Beeler last week.
That three-mile elevated segment runs through several neighborhoods including Old City, Queen Village and Pennsport. Some urban planners and activists say tearing it down will improve adjacent property values and revitalize Philadelphia's waterfront. They've seen it happen in other cities, such as Milwaukee, Providence, Boston, New York City and San Francisco.
If that notion is to be entertained, the question then becomes what to do with the traffic. Some, including Diana Lind, executive director of Next American City, advocate redirecting it to Columbus Boulevard. Lind says the traffic density of that segment is relativrly low and should not be too difficult to reroute.
But planned expansion to Philadelphia's port terminals, which requires highway access, might make that plan unsustainable. This raises the possibility of burying the highway, as Boston did with its "Big Dig." But that project was notoriously expensive and is still seen by many as a dangerous boondoggle.
Which comes with the higher cost: leaving the highway as it is, or removing it? Is it unfair to concentrate such a large road works project in South Philly, or would the work benefit the entire city?
Regardless of what happens to the highway, some people think expanding and improving mass transit is the key to Philadelphia's future. Should the city take a more holistic approach at transforming the transportation infrastructure of the entire city?
And, as always, we must ask how would all of this get paid for?
Tell us your thoughts on the subject.