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Breaking Ground on the I-95 CAP: High Spirits and a Community Focus


On a hot September 6, eager construction workers, Philadelphia residents, and local and state leaders gathered in the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Interstate 95 (I-95) Central Access Philadelphia (CAP) project. CAP is a transformative, $329 million project that will reconnect Philadelphia’s riverfront attractions and venues with some of Center City’s most vibrant neighborhoods by building an 11.5-acre park over six lanes of I-95 as it passes through Philadelphia. Specifically, the project team will build out the bridge structure between Walnut and Chestnut Streets across I-95 and Christopher Columbus Boulevard, execute repairs to underwater concrete piles in the Penn’s Landing area, and construct a new pedestrian bridge to connect the existing South Street bridge with the waterfront.

Once complete, the new elevated section between Walnut and Chestnut streets will feature “The Park at Penn’s Landing.” This park will include a mass-timber pavilion, open green space, gardens, a play area, concessions, an ice rink, and other amenities. The new park will also support pedestrian and cyclist use between the waterfront and the rest of the city.

Speakers at the ceremony included Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, PennDOT Secretary of Transportation Mike Carroll, and Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) President Joseph Forkin. Speakers addressed the economic and cultural importance of the waterfront to the city and the state. Because of the waterfront’s dynamic draw, state and local leaders expect the project to be a vehicle for continued investment and economic growth. “The City estimates a $1.6 billion return on investment in the next 25 years,” said Mayor Kenney.

Screenshot 2023 09 12 141211The speakers also discussed the damage that had been done to the waterfront and Philadelphia’s communities when I-95 was first constructed through the city. “Literally thousands of homes were taken to build I-95, thousands of families displaced, and houses torn down,” said Mayor Kenney, referencing the South Philadelphia neighborhood where he grew up. “For the decades since, we have been trying to figure out how to address this historic harm and reconnect Center City Philadelphia to the Penn’s Landing waterfront.”

To deliver the CAP, PennDOT has assembled a team with demonstrated experience working in the city on complex, high-profile projects. This includes contractor Buckley & Company, who was instrumental in realizing the emergency repairs on I-95 earlier this year, Philadelphia-headquartered designer Pennoni, and construction management consultant Hill International. In addition to constructing the project safely, quickly, and in a responsible way—to paraphrase Governor Shapiro—PennDOT’s team has prioritized interfacing with the community to help ensure the project responds to Philadelphians’ needs and concerns.

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“As PennDOT’s construction management consultant, one of our responsibilities is community relations,” says Hill Senior Project Manager Frank Bonito. “We’ve participated in several community meetings so far, and we expect to field questions and concerns from the Philadelphia community throughout the duration of the project. We help answer questions and give people a reasonable sense of how long the project’s going to last, what impacts might come up during construction, and what the end result is going to look like.”

Hill and the rest of the project team have already helped address multiple community concerns about the project. For example, project plans to relocate the Irish and Scottish Memorials on the existing bridge structure to make way for construction activities worried stakeholders. By coordinating with the community and PennDOT, the team was able to assure locals that the relocation would only be temporary, and the Irish and Scottish Memorials would stand tall in the Park at Penn’s Landing for years to come.

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With such an exciting community-oriented project, strong backing from state and local leaders, and a dedicated project delivery team, spirits at the groundbreaking ceremony were high—despite the heat. “It was probably the biggest [groundbreaking] I’ve ever been to,” adds Frank. “I know everyone on the project is excited about what we’re doing, and we look forward to working with the City, the DRWC, and the rest of the project’s stakeholders to get the work done.”

To learn more about Hill’s role on this project click here.