This winter PlanPhilly looked ahead at 2014 and noted four exciting transportation-related projects scheduled for completion: SEPTA's New Payment Technology (NPT), bike share, the Schuylkill River Boardwalk and the Dilworth Plaza makeover. Now, midway through the year, we've checked in on each of these projects to see where they stand.
NEW PAYMENT TECHNOLOGY
As we reported last week, NPT is delayed but still progressing. NPT will replace SEPTA's token-based payment system with an electronic system that will allow passengers to pay with smartcards or NFC-chip equipped devices like smartphones.
SEPTA is about to conduct a system pilot with employees. The success of that pilot will determine when SEPTA starts rolling out the new system. SEPTA officials says they are in the final phase before launch, but they do not have an official release date.
When it comes to Dilworth Plaza no news seems to be good news. The project is still on schedule to finish in September, but Center City District (CCD) would not say more than that. Spokesperson Linda Harris said CCD may be making an announcement soon.
The $55 million project is transforming Dilworth Plaza to the west of City Hall into an inviting, level park with a cafe, green space and gateways to the transit system below. One of the central and more complex features will be a dry-mist fountain designed by world renowned artist Janet Echelman.
Originally scheduled to roll out this fall, Philly's bike share system is now going to launch in spring 2015. Last week City Council passed a resolution to approve the bike share vendor (B-cycle) and operator (Bicycle Transit Systems) the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) selected, and the City recently received a $3 million grant to help ensure a socially equitable bike share system. One million of that grant will be used to establish bike share stations in low income neighborhoods.
"Generally our tendency is to go out and talk about bike share on a pretty regular basis," said Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities. "For us the next steps are trying to identify where the [station] locations are and then go out in those neighborhoods to help build consensus."
Next steps also include securing the sponsor who will name the system and determining the color of the bikes.
SCHUYLKILL RIVER BOARDWALK
Despite the impressive flooding this spring, the Schuylkill River Boardwalk is still on track to be finished this fall. The work is delayed two to four weeks though because the contractor did lose tool boxes, lumber and railings in the recent flooding. Fortunately there was no structural damage.
"When we designed it we knew it was going to be flooded at certain times of year," said Lane Fike, Director of Capital Programs at Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC). "This was a pretty monstrous flood."
The remaining work includes pouring a few concrete spans and installing railings and solar lighting.
Next SRDC is getting cost estimates for a trail segment they plan to build in front of the new CHOP development. SRDC hopes to start construction on that segment in early 2015.