Philadelphia is seeking proposals to redesign the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with a stronger focus on bike and pedestrian infrastructure, reports Ryan Briggs for WHYY. “The joint RFP, filed by the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Office of Transportation Infrastructure and Sustainability and the Mayor’s Fund, calls for a total redo of Eakins Oval –– including the removal of a surface parking lot –– and better infrastructure for public gatherings.” City leaders want to make the space between Logan Circle and the Philadelphia Art Museum a more accessible, more usable “pedestrian-oriented civic space.”
Similar projects have added “scattered—and sometimes temporary—improvements” along other stretches of the parkway, and officials hope the new project will unify what Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell calls Philadelphia’s “Champs-Élysées.” The Parisian boulevard, in fact, heavily influenced the 1917 design for the Franklin Parkway. But the road has become increasingly hostile to pedestrians. “Subsequent redesigns grappled with a complex traffic pattern that included intersections with Kelly Drive, Martin Luther King Drive, the Spring Garden Bridge, and other city streets. The construction of interstates 76 and 676 in the later 20th century added dedicated highway ramp spurs along the southern portions of the Parkway, further complicating foot access.”
With the project in its earliest stages, the city says it is “open to ambitious solutions” and hopes to see some “transformative ideas” for the historic roadway.