Plan to transform Ben Franklin Parkway unveiled

February 4, 2013 2:49:37 PM PST
Some local leaders want to make the Benjamin Franklin Parkway more than just a road.

70,000 people live within a ten minute mark and, the thinking is, that many of its 17 acres are under-used.

A study titled "More Park, Less Way" discusses some possible improvements.

What about a spot near the Iconic Iroquois Sculpture to put on a puppet show, or a place near the Rodin for a small concert? Or clear the current parking on Eakins oval and replace it with a garden and Tai Chi classes, volleyball and add a couple of upscale food trucks?

The city's point man, Michael DiBerardinis, says it is all being looked at.

"We know we need to put in infrastructure that draw people there and keep them there," DiBerardinis said.

The Parkway hosts big events a few times a year but the goal is to make it more attractive seven days a week for its 70,000 neighbors.

Reactions on the Parkway ranged from a shrug to a thumbs up.

"Especially with a young child I would absolutely be interested in more park space in the city," said Ellen Thornton.

"I would definitely use it. As far as traffic, though, that would be a consideration. That is definitely a drawback," said Gwen Pichon De Vandeuil.

There is no money for radical changes so the solution would likely involve synchronized, and better marked, crosswalks for pedestrians.

. As for skeptics, who doubt the Parkway can become more people friendly, planners point to Franklin Square at Sixth and Race. Refurbished six years ago, this one-time skid row is now a popular destination.