and why NOW?
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s (PEC) involvement with Spring Garden Street started four years ago with two key questions: how best to connect our region’s growing trail networks, and how best to connect Philadelphia’s two riverfronts. We completed the Center City Greenway Feasibility Study to answer these questions. It identified Spring Garden Street as the preferred option – and also started the process of unearthing Spring Garden’s potential to be a more complete street that better serves those traveling on foot or bicycle, by car, bus, or train.
The Spring Garden Street Greenway project starts now, with the goals of sharing that potential with a larger audience, generating excitement about a new greenway that connects river to river and neighborhoods to neighborhoods, and convening all those interested in designing and building the City’s greenest street!
Today, Spring Garden Street reflects its historic mix of people, businesses and architectural styles, yet many people avoid the street. Only seven blocks from City Hall, it feels like a world away. Vacant lots, underutilized blocks and fast traffic hurt businesses, push away pedestrians, and threaten cyclist safety.
But what if we could change that?
What if Spring Garden became the safest, most vibrant and user-friendly street in Philadelphia? A street that unified and leveraged investments, that expanded business opportunities, created new transportation and social connections, improved the environment, and increased access for everyone.
That is what the Spring Garden Street Greenway can be.
The following slides from the October 2011 public meeting help make the case for a Greenway along Spring Garden Street.
THE SIMPLE ANSWERS FOR WHY SPRING GARDEN STREET WOULD MAKE A GREAT GREENWAY ARE:
MEET LOCAL NEEDS & CONNECT PEOPLE AND NEIGHBORHOODS
Residents and neighborhood organizations are already investing in the street, replacing concrete with small gardens, and vacant buildings with new businesses. The Greenway can help connect, leverage and unify these investments by:
* Becoming the front door to diverse communities
* Creating a more active environment for residents to live, learn, work, and play
* Engaging all neighbors in deciding what the Greenway will be, in helping make it happen, and, once it is built, maintaining and caring for it
*Encouraging a more interactive community that draws people outdoors
IMPROVED SAFETY, BETTER TRAFFIC FLOW, BETTER TRANSIT & MORE TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
From a safety perspective, Spring Garden works well as an auto-dominated corridor, but not as an urban mixed use street with increasing demands from drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Every year, pedestrians, drivers and cyclists are hospitalized from accidents on Spring Garden. This project will:
* Increase safety for all modes of transportation, including motor vehicles, cyclists, walkers, strollers, joggers, and rollerbladers
* Provide new Transportation Alternatives for users of Spring Garden Street
* Provide better quality bicycling and pedestrian facilities
* Make Spring Garden Street a better transit corridor
* Transform Spring Garden Street into a Complete Street
CONNECT RIVERFRONTS & MAKE SPRING GARDEN HUMAN-SCALE AGAIN
Spring Garden provides the best connection between what will soon be two of the best riverfronts in the entire nation – Schuylkill Banks and the soon-to-be transformed Delaware Riverfront. The greenway could:
* Create new landscaping and plant trees to provide shade and beautify the street
* Restore Spring Garden as a grand boulevard, as it was 100 years ago –a destination, and a connecting link between riverfronts east and west, and between neighborhoods north and south
* Provide opportunities for installing new public art projects along the greenway
*Become the glue that holds communities together, rather than a boundary or dividing line
CLEAN UP RIVERS & PREVENT FLOODING
At each end of Spring Garden, Philadelphia’s old sewer system overflows and pollutes our rivers. Construction of the greenway could reduce these overflows by:
* Utilizing the space that lies beneath Spring Garden Street, more space than any other street in Philadelphia, to retain and treat stormwater
*Increasing trees and landscaping along the street to capture the stormwater
PROMOTION OF RECREATION & HEALTHY LIFESTYLES
Spring Garden could provide new open spaces for those who want to sit on a bench and enjoy the new landscape, or for those who want to exercise. The greenway could:
* Become the preferred, regionally-significant recreational connection between the Schuylkill Banks and the new Delaware riverfront
* Make Spring Garden Street an enjoyable, convenient destination for walking, strolling, jogging, rollerblading, and biking
*Create more opportunities for people to get outside, exercise, engage with their neighbors and spend time in the outdoors near where they live
INCREASED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
If properly managed, these improvements can bring new economic vitality to the neighborhoods along Spring Garden, helping link them together and extend neighborhood stability and prosperity from Center City. The project will:
* Encourage reinvestment and support existing businesses by bringing new customers to the corridor
* Use green infrastructure to encourage redevelopment and infill of currently-vacant properties (nearly half the total street front area of parcels along Spring Garden is currently vacant)
*Mobilize government resources at local, state and Federal levels to support redevelopment
GOOD INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE
While the planning process will identify the potential costs of different options to improve Spring Garden, we already know most of the proposed improvements will cost relatively little – in fact, less than it will cost to reconstruct a quarter-mile of I-95. The project will:
* Have a high Return on Investment
* Use scarce Federal and State dollars where they can benefit the most people – in a denser urban area
* Create a sense of place for Spring Garden again, places that not only you, but your children and grandchildren can treasure
*Help reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
BE A MODEL
Spring Garden can be the showcase and model for urban streets across Philadelphia and across the United States. Innovative projects like this also have a better opportunity of raising government funding and private support during times of constrained funding such as this. Finally, because the project will have so many different types of benefits, it can also innovate in combining different funding streams and different groups of supporters – all in support on one exciting project!
STUDIES & EXPERTS POINT THE WAY
On a more technical note, Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Center City Greenway Feasibility Study, a planning and outreach study conducted four years ago, identified Spring Garden Street as the best way to connect the two riverfronts. Also, traffic analysis shows that Spring Garden can manage the reconfigured traffic patterns. Finally, sewershed and combined-sewer overflow analysis point to Spring Garden as a huge potential opportunity to reduce the environmental impacts from this entire section of the City.
There are many reasons to help make the Spring Garden Street Greenway a reality!
Please come to our Public Meetings or send us comments, if you would like to add or share your thoughts on the Greenway.