Throughout 2023, the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) led a community visioning and engineering feasibility study for a project known as the Chinatown Stitch. The project aims to reconnect Philadelphia’s Chinatown and Chinatown North neighborhoods with a highway cap over Interstate 676 or the Vine Street Expressway.

In partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), the City gathered input from the Chinatown community and the general public in multiple phases. The results and feedback of this study are compiled in the Chinatown Stitch Vision Report – officially rolled out with a December press conference at the Crane Community Center.

The Chinatown community and surrounding neighborhoods have long suffered the ill effects of the Vine Street Expressway I-676. The construction process led to significant portions of the neighborhood being demolished and residents displaced.

With over 100,000 vehicles a day passing through, the expressway presents ongoing problems including traffic crashes, threats to pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, and air and noise pollution. Clearly, an infrastructure solution is needed to address these harms.

Engagement Process

  • Phase 1 – In Spring 2023, the study team led several public engagement opportunities including a vision and goals survey, pop-up events in the neighborhood, and a public community visioning workshop. The goal was to understand the needs of the Chinatown community.
  • Phase 2 – In Summer 2023, the study team used community input to develop a series of potential highway cap design concepts. In Fall 2023, the study team presented three potential design concepts with a second public survey, a series of community pop-up events, and a second community visioning workshop. PCDC hosted two workshops, specifically for Chinese speakers to discuss the design concepts and guide participants through the survey.
  • Phase 3 – Finally, the study team reviewed the latest community feedback and arrived at the preferred design concept. In December 2023, the study team shared the community vision and released the final Vision Report. Following two rounds of workshops and surveys in April and September, the two-block cap (Concept 1) was the highest ranked of three alternatives.

Next Steps

This preferred concept is only the start of the planning process. It sets the project on its course but leaves additional questions that will need to be answered over the next two years. The City encourages residents and business owners to continue to follow the project page and provide feedback at future milestones.

The preliminary design and engineering will take place in 2024-2025.

The City will apply for federal funding for the remaining engineering and construction funds under a new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) program. The Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant is the first ever program meant to address the problems created by federal and state highway construction.

If funding is received, the City anticipates that construction could start as early as 2027.