Bonus: Vine Street Overpass Renovations Pave the Way for Additional Projects!

Chestnut Street’s bridges, the Schuylkill Expressway, and West Schuylkill Avenue will now see refurbishments.

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

That pedestrian-friendly makeover that’s slated for the Vine Street Expressway overpasses has paved the way for another renovation project in Philadelphia, thanks to a law that helps fund “road projects, bridge repairs, and public transit.”

According to PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa, Act 89 has recently racked up more funding, meaning agencies are now in a position to “speed up construction on some major rehabilitation projects,” while at the same time “netting huge savings.”

PennDOT was permitted to consolidate the seven Vine Street Expressway overpasses into one contract because of this, Saksa writes, a perfect example of how “combining contracts saves a ton of money.”

The savings from the Vine Street bridges rehab, he adds, will go to speeding up repairs on Chestnut Street’s bridges, the Schuylkill Expressway, and West Schuylkill Avenue, which would have been more costly and time-consuming had the savings bonus not come in:

The Chestnut Street bridge project was originally planned to cost a total of $89 million, beginning construction in 2018 and finishing up in 2021. Now, barring a rare and unexpected reversal by the DVRPC Board, fixing the bridges will cost just $78.5 million and construction will start in 2016 and finish by 2018. Those are savings of $10.5 million, two years in waiting for construction, and a year in total construction time

Saksa also reports the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Regional Technical Committee aided this along by “recommending an amendment to the Transportation Improvement Program to that effect.”

News of these refurbishments may put Philly in a relatively good spot, especially since a recent look at the country’s infrastructure crisis seems to have been a question of how states give preference to new infrastructure, rather than the maintenance of established ones:

From 2004 to 2008, states dedicated just 43 percent of their road budgets to maintain existing roads despite the fact that they made up nearly 99 percent of the road system. The other 1 percent—new construction—got more than half the money. From 2009 to 2011 states did only marginally better, spending 55 percent of their road money ($20.4 billion) on expansion and just 45 percent on maintenance ($16.5 billion).

CityLab’s Eric Jaffe got the above numbers from a 2014 Smart Growth America report, which found road quality still becoming worse during the 2008-2011 period.

Low bids on I-676 bridge rehab frees up funds for Chestnut St. bridge work [PlanPhilly]