PennDOT's I-95 plan worries residents

April 24, 2008 8:42:04 PM PDT
It's still more a hope than a plan, but PennDOT tonight talked to Northeast Philadelphians about rebuilding a chunk of I-95. Residents aren't arguing whether the work is necessary. They just don't want it done at their expense.

"I don't know what is going on here. The wool is being put over our eyes again and it's very disturbing," said one resident.

There were questions and concerns, but mostly frustration. PennDOT invited residents in the Northeast to come to an informational meeting about how a proposed project to revamp a three-mile stretch of I-95 and improve traffic congestion near the Betsy Ross Bridge may affect them.

"As lifetime residents, I think we're entitled to more than just a couple of maps. We heard rumors they are going to go eminent domain," said Diane Wilson.

PennDOT is proposing to reconstruct some ramps and widen the highway from three to four lanes in several locations. PennDOT says it is still early, but it predicts it will probably acquire at least 25 properties.

"What we would tell them is that we want to settle their property or acquire their property amicably; Make sure they're paid fair market value for their properties," said a PennDOT spokesperson.

"I don't want our houses being taken. When I was a kid growing up, they took the houses behind us for I-95 and now they're slated to do it again. I am just here to make sure it doesn't happen," said Vera Mailone.

Residents aren't just concerned about their houses being taken. They're worried their properties may be damaged by the heavy construction so close by.

"I have a four-year-old grandson. I have to worry about going outside or what if things come flying over and destroy my property," said Francis Lally.

PennDOT officials caution residents the project is still in its preliminary stages and that there isn't even funding for the project yet. They said residents will not be impacted for at least 3 to 4 years.