Ben Franklin Parkway getting a makeover

July 17, 2008 4:07:55 PM PDT
Generations of Philadelphians have long talked about the potential of the Ben Franklin Parkway and have even compared it to the Champs Elysee in Paris. There is now a pot full of money available to bring the parkway closer to its grand vision.

That's thanks to a partnership between the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter and 3 local foundations. Governor Rendell made the announcement Thursday.

The plans call for extensive landscaping and roadway enhancements art, and lighting. The cost for the project is estimated at just over 17 million dollars, using public and private funds.

The Commonwealth will contribute 6.45 million, with the city of Philadelphia to match that. The rest of the money will come from, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Knight Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation. The improvements will coincide with the tax-payer-supported move of the Barnes Museum, from Merion to a new home on the Parkway, currently site of the Youth Study Center.

Not everyone, of course, is thrilled with that move, or the Parkway project, believing the money could be better used elsewhere.

But, most of those we talked with, say the plans are long overdue.

And Center City District President, Paul Levy, who envisioned it all, says soon the Parkway will no longer be just a highway. Instead, he says, it will be one of the great pedestrian places in center city for everyone.

Work is scheduled to begin later this year and be completed by 2011.