January 17, 2024 – Demolition of the Chestnut Street bridge (see below) and the adjacent cover over Interstate 95 between Chestnut and Sansom streets will take place early this winter, requiring temporary travel restrictions on I-95, its ramps, and Columbus Boulevard at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.
Plans for a series of weekend and nighttime operations to safely remove the massive concrete structure are being developed. With plans in place by February, crews will begin the process of demolishing and hauling away the old deck concrete, cutting and removing the structure’s concrete beams, and taking down the abutments on opposite sides of the interstate.
Specific detour plans will be announced in the weeks before the start of demolition operations.
Once the remnants of the existing cap are removed, work will begin on the new concrete structure that will span I-95 and Columbus Boulevard between Chestnut and Walnut streets.
In late 2023, crews began demolishing other existing structures within the project area, including the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge over Columbus Boulevard (see above) and the adjoining staircase and rotunda on the east side of the boulevard.
In preparation for the upcoming demolition and reconstruction, workers in fall 2023 removed many amenities from the existing cover (Chestnut Park). The Irish and Scottish memorials and several other fixtures at the memorial site were relocated (see right) to a temporary location at nearby Foglietta Plaza on Spruce Street near Front Street. The memorials remain accessible to visitors and will be returned to the new covered area at the completion of construction.
Construction also begins in early 2024 on the South Street pedestrian bridge extension over Columbus Boulevard (see rendering below). The bridge’s steel components will be assembled at a vacated parking lot adjacent to northbound I-95 near Dock Street. Repairs to the existing pedestrian bridge over I-95 between Front Street and Columbus Boulevard and removal of the overlook at the eastern end of the bridge will also take place this year, followed by installation of the foundations for the support piers for the bridge’s extension.
The existing pedestrian bridge will remain open during this work with only minor interruptions.
Since work began this summer on PennDOT’s $328.9 million contract to replace and expand the existing covered section (I-95/CAP), much of the early stage focus has been on the extensive relocation of utilities across the wide project area.
In addition to replacing the cap over I-95 between Chestnut and Sansom streets, the I-95 Central Access Philadelphia (CAP) Project will improve pedestrian and multi-modal connections between Center City and the waterfront. The project has two main components: a new Park at Penn’s Landing, and a new signature bridge at South Street, both of which will also extend over Columbus Boulevard to connect cyclists and pedestrians to the newly completed Delaware River Trail.
The new Park will be an 11.5-acre civic space spanning I-95 and Columbus Boulevard between Chestnut and Walnut streets, extending from Front Street to the Delaware River. It will include amenities including gardens, play areas, flexible open space, and a mass-timber Pavilion.
During construction, I-95 motorists will experience minor lane shifts on the mainline and adjacent ramps. Other travel restrictions will also occur on I-95 and adjacent surface streets — including Columbus Boulevard and Front Street, during various construction phases.
Pedestrian access between Center City and the waterfront will also be maintained on Dock Street and Market Street during construction.
The project is financed with federal, local, and private funds.