• Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program grant marks City’s largest single award under Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
  • Funding will cover costs for final design and implementation of Chinatown Stitch highway cap over portion of Vine Street Expressway

PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia, in partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), has been awarded a $158.9 million U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) grant – the largest single award to date for the City under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – to fund the final design and implementation of The Chinatown Stitch highway capping project. 

“I’m proud to stand here today with Federal partners Senator Casey and Representatives Boyle and Evans to celebrate this substantial federal funding for our Chinatown Stitch project, and I also thank Senator Fetterman for his support,” said Mayor Cherelle L. Parker at the March 11 press conference announcing the funding. “This project will help Chinatown better connect with other portions of our downtown and provide essential greenspace for the community. Today’s announcement is inter-governmental collaboration at its finest.” 

In February 2022, the City and PCDC were awarded $1.8 million in federal funding under the RCP program to conduct a study of ways to reconnect Chinatown across the Vine Street Expressway (I-676). Over the past year, the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) and PCDC led the study gathering input from the Chinatown community and the general public. Following two rounds of workshops and surveys in April and September, the two-block cap (Concept 1) was announced in December as the highest-ranked of three alternatives in the Chinatown Stitch Vision Report. 

“The Chinatown community has pushed for a park covering Vine Street to bring green space, eliminate automobile and noise pollution, and reconnect a neighborhood that was separated by the expressway,” said Mike Carroll, Deputy Managing Director for the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS). “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents a significant turning point and we celebrate the hard work of our federal partners in delivering on the substantial funding needed to realize the Chinatown Stitch project.” 

Since its inception in the 1960s, the Vine Street Expressway has represented a threat to the Chinatown community. Upon completion in the 1990s, the highway effectively separated the neighborhood into the commercial core of Chinatown to the south and a more residential area to the north. 

As early as 2004, PCDC and Asian Americans United initiated the Chinatown Neighborhood Plan, which recommended a “Vine Street Cover Park” for the City’s only neighborhood without a public greenspace within its borders. The strength of this grant application was due to the project originating within the community, followed by broad support and a focus on centering the Chinatown community in the decision-making process. 

“This grant award is transformative. If a community has a dream, it has a will. If a community has a will, it has the power to effect change,” said John Chin, Executive Director, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC). “We are indebted to Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman, Congress members Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans, our local elected officials, and transportation agencies for making this dream a reality.” 

OTIS will begin the design and engineering work in early 2024. Continuing community engagement will focus on developing an Equitable Outcomes Action Plan by PCDC and designing amenities for the capped area. Construction is anticipated to start in 2028 and be substantially completed in 2031.  

Last week, the City of Philadelphia’s Infrastructure Solutions Team (IST) published its first-ever annual report and action plan to recap the work to date in securing federal investments, specifically from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).The report explains the City’s strategy and goals for the largest long-term infrastructure investment in American history. 

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