PHILADELPHIA, PA - With everyone itching to get outside again as the weather warms up, Philadelphians will be excited to learn that a new quarter mile park is opening this summer.
It’s called the Rail Park and it’s currently under construction in the Callowhill and North Chinatown neighborhoods.
Organizers of the project tell PHL17’s Matt Alba that they hope to open July 1st.
Over the past year, construction crews have been transforming an elevated viaduct near 12th and Callowhill into the new park.
Sarah McEneaney has been working to get the Rail Park project off the ground for over a decade and said she has wanted to transform the railroad tracks ever since the freight trains stopped running in 1984.
“As i got more neighbors, and we kept talking about it, we just would look at it and say, ‘Something should happen with that!’ We began our efforts in 2003.”
Phase one of this project is a quarter of a mile long and kind of resembles New York City’s High Line.
Michael Garden is the Vice Chair of Friends of the Rail Park and told PHL17 that freight trains in and out of the Reading Terminal used to run on the converted viaduct, but over the years, they became abandoned and overgrown.
“There are three entrances to the park: one from 13th St. through a stairway, one from Noble Street, which is the ADA access, and then there is another stairway down on Callowhill Street.”
Garden says when this park opens this summer, it will be the first green space in the Callowhill and Chinatown North neighborhood.
There are five large swinging benches at the Callowhill entrance.
Eventually, Friends of the Rail Park say they want to develop three sections to make a large three mile trail. There is “The viaduct that soars overhead, the cut that weaves between the streets parallel to Spring Garden Street, and the tunnel that dives underground below Pennsylvania avenue in Fairmount."
Garden says there will be programming on the site that will be designed to attract people from all over the city.
Organizers of the project say phase one cost $10 million, and to fund the entire project could cost upwards of $120 million; but they’re hopeful the entire park will have a huge economic impact on Philadelphia once completed.
Garden told PHL17, “There are many ways that revenues to the city will increase,property values will increase, taxes on businesses, workers wages, etc.”