Gawking at another city's elevated linear park

For Albany Skyway inspiration / comparison / gawking: That video embedded above is a short aerial clip of the new Rail Park in Philadelphia, a former elevated rail line that's been turned into a quarter-mile linear park. It's part of an overall plan to create a 3-mile park along the rail line with sections at various elevations.

From an article about the park at Architects Newspaper:

The first section of the linear park, located on the northern edge of Center City and designed by landscape architects Studio Bryan Hanes, reflects the neighborhood's industrial past. Native plants and trees were planted on top of the viaduct's steel arches, and remnants of the embedded rail track are woven throughout the zigzagging walkway. Riveted I-beams have been turned into seating, and structural steel beams are used to support the hanging benches. A timeline of the neighborhood and a historical list of the city's industrial manufacturers have been cut into a weathered Cor-ten steel "history wall" that visitors can walk beside.
Unlike New York's High Line, the Rail Park is wide enough to include both dedicated bike trails and footpaths for pedestrians, creating new links to traditionally underserved neighborhoods when the three-mile-long park is complete.

This first section cost a little less than $11 million to construct. (It sounds like Friends of the Rail Park is trying to cobble together money for all sorts of sources. ) There are more photos at the Rail Park Instagram.

And over at Plan Philly there's a long look at how the park came to be and the some of the tensions that were part of its creation.

Earlier: Working out the design of the Albany Skyway


I'm SO EXCITED to check this out when I go to Philly in October!

Two comments - 1) I have no confidence that anyone has considered this snag - this ramp is US Rte 9's designated route through Albany; I can't begin to imagine what lengthy & complicated process the Federal Gov't would have to change this Route's path. 2) Nearly 1/2 of of this "linear park" is under 787 so we're more so building a tunnel than a park. Do you honestly want to look up and see this ugly infrastructure's underside? As such, there's a lot of plants that don't grow well without sunlight as in all known vegetation. Finally, consider this - you're homeless, and its 9 pm in summer downpour - where would you migrate to? Why you'd go to an elevated park that has a 6-lane highway that doubles as a "roof" just 40 feet above your head. And, ask yourself, would you then have that poor soul kicked out in the rain just so you could rollerblade without having to face them? Once again, this is an under-planned, overestimated pipe dream that, unfortunately, no one is taking a realistic approach to it existence, either as the road it is now, or as the half-assed park its wanted to become.

Your first point is completely valid but that sounds like more of the federal government's problem than Albany's. That ramp doesn't carry enough traffic to justify the cost to upkeep it. In fact, the developers said that the ramp would likely not receive maintenance for several more years because it wouldn't be eligible for these funds without it being converted into a park.

Second, only a portion of the park is going to be beneath the I-787 ramp. Most of the park will be out in the open. As for the ramp itself, why can't we paint murals/public art on the pillars? So cynical. We shouldn't build the park because the ramp is ugly, so that entire area of Albany should just stay perpetually dilapidated. It's ugly so it should stay ugly. See the feedback loop there?

In the previous planning session, the developers mentioned that they would choose plants based on the sunlight/shade conditions of each planter. It's not a difficult or expensive thing to do. The city already employs people whose job it is to do that.

To answer your rhetorical question: "Do you honestly want to look up and see this ugly infrastructure's underside?" This is the wrong question to ask. A better question would be "do you honestly want another way to access the waterfront, even if that requires walking beneath I-787?" The answer is an equivocal YES. It's more-or-less an addition to an already existing park along the riverfront. I, for one, utilize the park along the waterfront and this would be an addition that I use daily.

Rerouting US-9 N seems pretty minor. Quay St to Water St to Orange St to Pearl St to Clinton Ave and it's back on track. The Federal government has no part in the routing of US routes (consult your friendly neighborhood wikipedia for more info).
The State DOT probably just has to submit an update to the AASHTO and it's done.

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