Residents are encouraged to fill out a survey and attend a public meeting to provide feedback for three proposed design alternatives
PHILADELPHIA – The City, in partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), today released a public survey for input and feedback on three design concepts for the second phase of the Chinatown Stitch project in English and Simplified Chinese. There will also be a public workshop – Monday, September 18 from 6-8 p.m. at the Chinese Christian Church and Center – for City officials and residents to review these alternatives in detail.
Earlier this year, the City launched a decades-in-the-making project to evaluate ways to reconnect the Chinatown community separated by the Vine Street Expressway with a “cap.” A “cap” is a bridge, platform or structure built over a limited access highway, which creates the potential for uses such as parks, open space, or even commercial and residential development.
A new grant, made possible by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program (RCP), will enable the City, PCDC and its partners to accelerate the planning process.
“For years, the Chinatown community has sought to mitigate the negative impacts of the Vine Street Expressway. One of the largest-scale interventions discussed over the years is a capping project. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law we now have a pool of funding to help move this project forward,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I’m proud of the work the City and PCDC have done to engage neighborhood stakeholders since the Summer of 2021 and I encourage neighbors to actively participate in this second phase of input. The City’s project team is very conscious of the unintended impacts of large investment and remains committed to centering the voices and priorities in an equitable way to ensure the most vulnerable community members will benefit from this investment.”
The three proposed alternatives based on community input from the first phase include:
- A two-block concept covering the full block between 10th to 11th Streets and 12th to 13th Streets,
- a three-block concept continuous covering from 10th to 13th Streets,
- and a three-block shifted street concept which includes the covering from 10th to 13th Streets but the westbound surface-level Vine Street is shifted south to run next to the eastbound lane at 11th and 12th Streets.
“The second phase of the Chinatown Stitch project will give us the opportunity to present three design alternatives and identify the preferred design approach to reconnect the Chinatown neighborhood across the Vine Street Expressway I-676,” said Deputy Managing Director for Transportation, Mike Carroll. “OTIS is proud to lead this important work to repair historic harms caused by the highway construction, which physically divided Chinatown and heightened traffic safety and environmental justice issues.”
Since the 1960s, the Vine Street Expressway has been greeted with significant community opposition. Upon completion of construction in 1991, the expressway intensified the social and economic disconnect between the Chinatown and Chinatown North neighborhoods. The community engaged in numerous neighborhood plans and studies over the past twenty years.
“Chinatown is excited and hopeful that the next generation will live and work in a neighborhood where the expressway no longer poses a physical and mental barrier to the growth of our community,” said John Chin, Executive Director for PCDC.
Knight Foundation’s Philadelphia Director, John Churchill, “It is exciting to partner with the leaders and residents of Chinatown who have been seeking ways to address the problems caused by the expressway for decades. We look forward to watching the engagement process for this transformational opportunity, which places people at the center of community decisions, continue.”
The U.S. DOT’s RCP Program was established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It provides funding to repair communities from the economic and social disconnection created by transportation infrastructure, such as large highway construction projects.
The alternatives development and concept study is funded by the City. The preliminary engineering phase, which will begin in 2024, is funded by a Reconnecting Communities federal grant award of $1.8 million. Matching funds totaling $2.2 million were offered by the City, PennDOT, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and a number of other local donors.
Providing Feedback on the Design Concepts:
The project team is committed to hearing from the public and the community. The feedback from Phase 1 directly influenced the proposed designs presented in Phase 2. Residents are encouraged to fill out this survey, also available in simplified Chinese, on the proposed concepts by Sunday, October 1.
Residents can also attend a public meeting on Monday, September 18 from 6-8 p.m. at the Chinese Christian Church and Center (1101 Vine Street) to provide feedback.
The Study has two distinct phases:
- Phase 1: Announced in April 2023,sought public input to develop a project vision and establish project goals based on what the community wanted to see. It also identified preferred locations and types of capping, and prioritized uses of the capped area.
- Phase 2: Using input from the first phase to develop three design concepts for capping locations, the project team will work with the community to identify a preferred design approach that is consistent with the vision and goals established in Phase 1.
Over the next few years, the grant funding will support public engagement, planning and engineering work. These efforts will contribute toward future construction grant applications, as fundraising and project development continue. The City hopes to start construction by 2028, depending on funding availability and the complexity of concepts chosen by the community.
To learn more about the Chinatown Stitch, visit the project page to review meeting minutes and access a calendar of events. If a civic organization would like to request a presentation from the project team at their next meeting, they can do so by emailing OTIS@phila.gov.