Friday, February 09, 2007

The South Street Bridge Stops Here

There is a revolt smoldering in the neigh-borhood around the South Street Bridge. Opponents to the proposed car-dominated design by Gannett Fleming and H2L2 are circulating petitions in an effort to convince city officials to throw it overboard.

There are two upcoming City Council hearings where those opponents plan to raise a fuss. Both are scheduled for Feb. 14, so bring a valentine for your favorite council member. The hearings will be devoted to technical issues, but no matter. At 10 a.m., the Streets Committee will meet to discuss lines and grade issues. That session will be followed by a meeting of the Public Property Committee at 10:30 a.m. to discuss right of way issues. It may be the last chance to convince city officials to make the South Street Bridge to look more like the Hungerford Bridge (above) than the current design (below).
In today's Changing Skyline, I explain how London salvaged a beautiful 19th Century bridge similar to South Street by suspending 12-foot-walkways from the sides using a cable-stay system. You can get a feel for walking over the Thames Bridge by clicking on this link here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These four glass and steel support posts on the new South St. Bridge look like they belong on a bad SEPTA train station renovation... maybe they use the same designers as Dranoff's red finger on Broad street S.H.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous TEB said...

You've got to be kidding. The faint hint of the skyline in the background is on only hint that this is supposed to be in Philadelphia, or any city for that matter. It looks more appropriate for a lonely stretch of desert taken at 80 mile per hour...God help the pedestrian...

8:15 PM  
Blogger rasphila said...

The article in the Inquirer put the case against the new design very well. The central problem is that this is a piece of traffic engineering, not an effort to connect two parts of the city, or make the city look better. It's sole aim seems to be to move cars, which makes it bad not only for pedestrians but for both of the communities that the cars will pass through when they are going to or from the bridge. What a blunder!

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The pedestrian bridge in London takes you directly to the eye...its all about walking! Why cannot city officials give us a glimer of what our founders left for us...a magnificent walking city. They city deserves better than another freeway over water...

11:03 AM  
Blogger rasphila said...

Anonymous has got it right, both about London and about Philadelphia. The Hungerford Bridge takes you to the Eye, and crossing the Millenium Bridge from the Tate Modern, you get a constant view of St. Paul's. What could be better for walking? And why is Philadelphia so centered on traffic engineering when it is one of the great walking cities?

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Stephen Maczko said...

I'm a little bit curious about Inga's use of the word 'revolt.'

When I see that word I think of 1848, October 1917 or, possibly, 1968 Paris.

One wonders whether this is an inappropriate use of metaphor or wishful thinking.

At any rate, citizens petitioning government officials hardly constitutes revolt.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings... Michael McGettigan here.
Can you tell us where to sign petitions to stop the South Street Expressway Bridge?

I live a block from the Bridge and haven't heard anything from our council members or local ward leaders since the Jan. 8 meeting where Streets Dept. and PennDOT said, "thanks for your comments, take it and like it, cause we're not changing anything about the bridge."

I will be at City Council on the 14th, hope others are too.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a driver that bridge is scary. I'm always afraid of hitting someone.

They need to make a pedestrian bridge seperate from the car bridge.

The top design would be ideal. The sterile design on the bottom looks too much like the Walnut Street Bridge which is perilous if you are walking.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we should make it as dangerous as possible for drivers. Hopefully many people will be killed exiting off the highway.

Pedestrians should have a nice view. Who cares if there will be lots of death for those horrible "drivers" or as I like to call them "dead deserving drivers"

It's only a stupid offramp off an interstate for the largest employer in the region.

Screw everyone except the people who want a nice view and have Federal-like control over design projects like a city like London.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Philly has to believe in itself said...

There are some visually stunning bridges in the area, the modern suspension bridge in Delaware, so not just London, Madrid, and those "artsy" cities have great architecture that works for walkers AND drivers.

Those towers go against what the problems of the bridge now are -- people sleep on it in the nooks, then get drunk and 1. pee 2. vandalize 3. grafitti the structure.

So with towers, not just nooks, we'll have better bridge troll housing.

Come on architects, spend some time there is person and see how the thing is used for the good and the ill.

Let's reduce urban ills and promote safety for traffic (which doesn't mean that the bridge should resemble I-95 over water) and good use with fine design.

We can do it -- we have the architects who can make this happen.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Why not a great bridge? said...


There are some hearings at city hall regarding the plans for the South Street Bridge. The agenda items include:

Committee on Streets and Services: 060893 070046

Committee on Public Property and Public Works:060894

See for more information.

It does seem odd that city council is having hearings about lane usage, etc. for bridge plans that so clearly did not meet neighborhood expectations, particularly since many were concerned that the proposed bridge is much wider than the current bridge and PennDot promised us no increase in carrying capacity. If you are concerned, contact Kathleen Murray in Council President Anna C. Verna's office:215-686-3412

From an email to the SWCC area.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous let's go philly said...

There is time to improve the design and still start demolition and basics.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Given a chance to make more than a passing nod at a bold public statement, the city and its chosen architects for the bridge have literally walked the straight and narrow path. Apart from how significant the bridge is to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic between Center City and West Philadelphia, it also happens to be one of the principal structures by which many visitors who drive into town first arrive. What better place to make a good first impression while expressing the city's dynamism...or lack of same.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Philadelphia must be the worst run big city in the country. You'd have to be insane to say the bottom design is better. It could be any more bland. It is also dangerous for pedestrians, and evokes nothing of the city. I can't see even a glimmer of creative thinking in the bottom design. Philadelphia deserves better!

6:31 PM  

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