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vine street aerial

Vine Street Expressway (I-676) Cap Assessment
Philadelphia, PA

Capping the Vine Street Expressway will enhance Philadelphia’s vitality by reconnecting communities, creating new urban spaces, spurring development, increasing property values, and improving public health and environmental quality.

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Client
Center City District

Vine Street Expressway Rendering

Rendering showing capping possibilities Credit: Photo by Mark Henninger | Imagic Digital

The Center City District has long played a leadership role in helping Philadelphia be a clean, safe, and attractive place for people to live, work and enjoy. To help reconnect Philadelphia neighborhoods divided by the Vine Street Expressway, Center City District partnered with Urban Engineers and Pennoni to conduct a preliminary feasibility assessment of capping expressway segments between 8th Street and the 18th Street bridge.

 

The study consisted of analyzing roadway and bridge data, utilities, right of way, structural components, traffic, and adjacent properties for the segments (bridge to bridge section) along I-676.  Based on the analysis, the feasibility of constructing a cap along each segment was categorized into three categories:

 

  • Most Easily Achieved: The entire segment can likely be capped with minimal limitations.
  • Achievable with Constraints: Only a portion of the segment can likely be capped (the cap would not extend from bridge to bridge) and/or permanent roadway closure would likely be required.  
  • Not Feasible: The segment would not be suitable for a cap based on exit/entrance ramps, an underground SEPTA tunnel, and/or abutment constraints.

 

vine street assessment image

 

Interestingly, out of the nine segments analyzed, three segments fell into the Most Easily Achieved category, three segments were in the Achievable with Constraints category and the remaining three segments were determined to be Not Feasible.  

While the proposed vision of the cap is still in the planning stage, it is anticipated the cap will contain a park, open space, and/or structures. Since the load associated with park and overbuild structures is often greater than or equal to the loadings on conventional highway bridge structures, a structural analysis was recommended to determine whether the existing retaining walls can be reused as abutments to support a cap or new semi-integral abutments must be constructed to support the cap.

 

The study was completed in May 2022. In February 2023, the City of Philadelphia was awarded a $1.8 million Reconnecting Communities Grant to further explore capping a partition of the Vine Street Expressway between Broad Street and 8th Street by gathering input from the Chinatown community and the public.

 

Get in Touch
Vice President, Practice Leader for Bridges
mpwetzel@urbanengineers.com 215.922.8081
Get in Touch
Vice President, Philadelphia Regional Manager
jlwaters@urbanengineers.com 215.922.8080