Philadelphia is expected to get started on a project that has been in the works for almost two decades. Sources say Philadelphia will be bridging the gap in the ethnic ‘Chinatown’ neighborhood, with a cap over the Vine street expressway between 8th and Broad streets.
City officials announced Wednesday that they will be partnering with Chinatown’s development corporation to planning the reconstruction for the makeover, locally recognized as the Chinatown “stitch”. City officials hope that this reconstruction will reverse the negative impact local Philadelphians’ say have plagued the city since the Vine expressway was reconstructed in 1989.
During a news conference, John Chin, executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, spoke about his hope for the project and what it could mean to the city. “There’s some light at the end of the tunnel that [we] can really take this concrete highway and convert it into something that can be of great benefit to the residents and workers of Chinatown,” said Chin.
But as Chinatown villagers have been waiting for years to be heard, they try not to get hopes too high, as there has been no official ruling on the 76ers proposal to relocate near Chinatown. Local residents of Chinatown fear with the 76ers relocation, comes more traffics, less safety, and increased cost of living in Chinatown.
Steven Zhu, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chinese Restaurant Association, emphasizes the created risk with overpopulating the area. “You have a 170-year history in Chinatown. You need people for Chinatown to survive,” said Zhu. “People won’t come to the businesses. It’s not easy to get in and get out,” he said.
With the Chinatown stitch, the government has granted the city $4 million dollars to conceal the underground section of Interstate 676, with the remaining funds being dispersed into an equity plan involving community building. As mentioned before, Chinatown residents having been waiting forever for change to come to its systematically invaded neighborhood.
Christopher Puchalsky, a director with the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, expresses his intent to move forward with the project immediately. “We’re really focused on not just having this be planning work for planning sake, but to get to construction,” said Puchalsky
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