Philadelphia, PA - Center City District released bid documents for the complete replacement of the pedestrian bridge over 13th Street that will serve as the prime gateway to the new Rail Park. Rust and corrosion of structural beams, uncovered during the renovation process under a foot of earth, caused the Streets Department of the City of Philadelphia to conclude that for safety and ongoing maintenance reasons the 130-year-old railroad bridge needs to be replaced.
Over the last several months the CCD’s design and engineering team, led by Urban Engineers, has worked closely with the Streets Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation to evaluate different options and to create new construction documents for the park portion of the 13th Street bridge that were released to a dozen contractors last week as part of a competitive bidding process.
The plans call for a replacement bridge constructed with new steel support beams and concrete decking to be placed on top of the existing stone retaining walls. The existing steel girders that currently project above walking level will be removed, restored and put back in place on top of the new bridge. They will be repurposed to frame walkways and to create large planters for trees and shrubs so that the finished product will look substantially similar to what was originally designed as the primary public entrance to the park at 13th and Noble Streets by Studio Bryan Hanes, the landscape designer for the project.
Once a contractor is selected in late February, a final project schedule will be published. CCD currently anticipates that the park will open to the public later in the spring of 2018.
“While this unanticipated delay in the opening of the Rail Park is disappointing, the good news is that it will enable us to open the park at the very best time of year,” Center City District President and CEO Paul R. Levy said. “Our original construction schedule had the work being completed in February, when little would be green in the park. Spring, however, is the perfect time to open a space for the public to enjoy.”
In the meantime, AP Construction, CCD’s prime contractor, who started work in October 2016, will continue their finishing work on the park, installing all benches, walkways, lighting and completing the renovation of Noble Street from Broad to 12th Street. As soon as the weather breaks in early spring, final landscaping and the park walkways and benches will be installed on the elevated viaduct.