November 27, 2023
The Walnut Street pedestrian bridge and rotunda at Penn's Landing are being demolished in preparation for the new park that will cap I-95 along the Delaware River waterfront.
The pedestrian bridge, which crosses I-95 and Christopher Columbus Boulevard, has been closed since September. On Saturday, crews began knocking down the rotunda staircase, which connected the eastern side of the bridge to Penn's Landing.
Demolition work has since shifted to remove the span over Columbus Boulevard and will continue daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Friday. The northbound side of Columbus Boulevard will be reduced from three lanes to one lane between Lombard Circle and Market Street, PennDOT officials said.
The bridge portion that spans I-95 will be demolished in January.. That work will be completed during off-peak hours and include overnight lane closures and weekend detours. Later in the winter, PennDOT will demolish the Chestnut Street bridge to the north, which currently serves both vehicles heading eastbound and pedestrians.
The work is all part of PennDOT's $329 million project to replace and expand the covered section of I-95 along the riverfront. This will support the creation of an 11 1/2-acre park that extends over I-95 and Columbus Boulevard, spanning north to south from Chestnut to Walnut streets.
The park is expected to include an ice rink, public gardens, memorials, a play area, an amphitheater, food trucks, a cafe and a pavilion.
Last week, in preparation for demolition activity, crews removed Scottish and Irish memorial sculptures from Chestnut Street Park. The memorials have been temporarily relocated to Foglietta Plaza near Spruce and Front streets. They will be reopened to the public in December and will eventually become part of the new park.
PennDOT's work also will include extending the South Street pedestrian bridge over Columbus Boulevard. That will connect pedestrians and cyclists with an expanded Delaware River Trail between Spring Garden Street to the north and Washington Avenue to the south.
In the meantime, the primary options for pedestrians and cyclists to cross I-95 during the park's construction will be Market Street and Dock Street.
Structural steel for the South Street bridge extension is being fabricated and will be assembled at a parking lot adjacent to northbound I-95 near Dock Street. Maintenance repairs to the existing South Street pedestrian bridge and the removal of the overlook are set to be completed early next year. Then, the foundations needed for the extension will be installed. The existing pedestrian bridge will remain open during this time with only minor interruptions, PennDOT officials said.
The park and bridge project was announced in 2017, but construction was delayed for two years by the COVID-19 pandemic and engineering hurdles. In the intervening years, project designer KierenTimberlake and architect Hargreaves Jones have released multiple renderings of the planned park, which will include several elevation changes.
The project is being funded with a combination of federal, local and private funds. PennDOT aims to complete its work on the cap over I-95 by 2028. The South Street bridge extension could be completed by the end of 2025, officials said. The new park is targeted to open in 2029.