And it's good. All we need now is for Mayor Nutter to step up and wield some political muscle.
See, resulting from the bridge design charettes of last month, the South Street Bridge Coalition and the urban design firm of Wallace Roberts and Todd have produced a report (which you can download here [PDF]) suggesting numerous simple modifications to make the bridge design more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.
The coalition commissioned the report last month after learning that construction on the long-delayed $54 million project would begin in the summer.Yes, Mayor Nutter — a fresh look.
Center City residents have demanded changes in the design since at least 2001, but made no headway with city engineers during the Street administration. Their hope is that Nutter and his cabinet will take a fresh look at the bridge, which is an important neighborhood link and a dramatic gateway to Center City from I-76.
An administration official said Nutter was willing to consider changes, but first wanted a briefing on the WRT report. After receiving such a briefing Friday, City Council President Anna Verna, whose district includes the bridge, agreed to support the redesign, a spokesman said.That’s probably because you’d have to be a total idiot not to support the redesign.
The design tweaks are nothing crazy and would not delay the bridge from being built on-time. They're simply necessary.
Though the coalition no longer holds out much hope that the new bridge will be as architecturally rich, the group wants to ensure that the surface feels like a continuation of a city street rather than an interstate overpass, Campbell said.For shame, PennDOT. For shame.
According to the WRT report, the best way to soften that highway character would be to widen the sidewalks, upgrade the decorative railings and lights, and add amenities like crosswalks and bus stops.
"Good grief, how can we have a regional rail station that goes to the airport and not provide a bus stop?" Campbell asked. "We need a 21st-century bridge, with connections to recreation and transportation, not an SUV bridge."
The Schuylkill, which is about the same width as the Seine in Paris, was once spanned by pedestrian-scale, architecturally distinctive crossings. But as the old masonry bridges at Spring Garden, Chestnut and Walnut Streets came up for repair, they were replaced with standard girder-bridges that resemble highway overpasses, down to their industrial green undercarriages.
So Nutts — you have to make this happen. This is an easy one. No excuses, k?
A Redraw for the South Street Bridge [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Report: Design Recommendations For The South Street Bridge [ South Street Bridge Coalition, PDF ]
Last Hope For Forging Gracious Link Across River [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
South Street Bridge: Philadelphia Deserves Better [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
A bridge too far - Designed for vehicles, not pedestrians, a rebuilt South Street Bridge could widen the psychological divide between West Philadelphia and Center City [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Action Alert: The New South Street Bridge Is Not Completely Lost Yet