Designing Access Improvements on I-95 in Philadelphia
Running parallel to the Delaware River along Philadelphia’s eastern border, Interstate 95 (I-95) is an important thoroughfare for commuters, freight traffic and visitors to the city. It provides north-south access for 158,000 daily vehicles traveling to and from the city’s northeastern neighborhoods and suburbs, Center City, the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and Philadelphia International Airport, and it connects Philadelphia to New Jersey via multiple bridge crossings. For more than a decade, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) District 6 has been leading a long-term, multi-phase initiative called I-95 Revive to improve and rebuild the interstate, its ramps, interchanges and bridges.
The Section BSR project entails widening that 2-mile stretch from three to four lanes in each direction to add capacity, alleviate traffic and improve mobility and safety. It also involves rebuilding all the bridges on this segment. In addition, one of the directives from the Federal Highway Administration was to consolidate partial interchanges and ramps into full interchanges and to prevent interstate traffic from out-letting onto local streets and communities. CDM Smith, therefore, performed a comprehensive study of the area along with PennDOT and city officials, resulting in a recent addition that extends a city street 1.5 miles to the new interchange to improve access to I-95 and to help divert truck traffic around the local communities rather than through them.
CDM Smith has been involved on Section BSR since its most early phases, when we completed a point of access study of the combined Bridge Street interchange and the Betsy Ross Bridge segments. CDM Smith’s team has since completed preliminary engineering and is currently working on the section’s final design. The existing highway has been in place for 50 years, and it is likely that the reconstruction will be in place for at least that long, so it is critical that we get the design right. A carefully composed design will not only have a positive effect on regional mobility but also local safety and quality of life.