The park will be the size of a city block and will connect Old City to the Delaware riverfront at Penn's Landing.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Preliminary construction for a massive park to be built above Interstate 95 at Penn's Landing will begin by the end of March, according to PennDOT officials.
PennDOT gave approval last week for a contractor to begin construction on the I-95 cap project.
At nearly 12 acres, the Park at Penn's Landing will be the size of a city block and will connect Old City to the Delaware riverfront at Penn's Landing.
A substantial portion of it will be built on top of I-95 and Columbus Boulevard, between Chestnut and Walnut streets.
"When people see that park, you're not going to be able to see from one side to the other," said Elaine Elbich, PennDOT project manager of the I-95 cap project.
Elbich said, building the foundation for the park will be monumental for PennDOT and the community.
"This is the largest 95 project that we have put to bid, at $328.9 million. We have billions on the street already, but this is the largest of them," Elbich said.
By the end of the month, expect to see field offices near the South Street Bridge.
Elbich said utility crews will also begin work along Columbus Blvd.
Major construction is set to begin this spring and will include the demolition of the existing cap that's currently covering I-95 at Chestnut Street.
That work will happen while traffic flows underneath, according to Elbich.
"There'll be detours for everybody, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists as well. The shutdowns on 95 will be nighttime only," Elbich said.
The cap will be rebuilt and significantly enlarged to cover the interstate between Chestnut and Walnut Streets.
Another part of the project will focus on the South Street pedestrian bridge, which currently crosses I-95.
PennDOT will extend the bridge over Columbus Blvd. to create a seamless connection to and from the riverfront.
Elbich said preliminary plans call for the extension to be built adjacent to Columbus Blvd. and then installed above the road.
PennDOT expects to be done with the cap project in 2026.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation will then take over to build the rest of the Park at Penn's Landing.
That portion of the project is being funded by the city.
Community meetings will be held before major construction begins, according to PennDOT.
A city spokesperson said in a statement:
"The City is pleased that PennDOT will begin preliminary construction on the new I-95 Cap project at Penn's Landing. The Kenney Administration has already committed $90M to this project, $20M have already been spent to complete the Delaware River Trail between Washington Avenue and Spring Garden, and has recently added $6M in the new proposed FY24 budget."
DRWC President, Joe Forkin released a statement:
"To see a notice to proceed issued to the contractor and to see this project, a total gamechanger for the city of Philadelphia, moving forward, could not be more exciting. The I-95 Cap and the Park at Penns Landing represent a major, transformative milestone in the continued implementation of The Master Plan for the Central Delaware. In the past few years we have seen all of the building blocks necessary for this project to commence come into place, including the completion of the Delaware River Trail. The community asked for connectivity - between all of the many parks and attractions along the Delaware River waterfront, to the city and beyond. We are so close to realizing the pinnacle and it's extraordinary to be on the forefront of a transformation that will change the city of Philadelphia for the better for generations to come. We look forward to working with all the project partners on a streamlined schedule to deliver this amenity to the residents of Philadelphia and the region in the most expeditious manner possible. While it's too early to determine an exact opening date, we will be diligent in its execution and provide updates throughout the construction process."