The City of Philadelphia has pledged an additional $1 million to the project to turn the defunct, elevated Reading Viaduct rail line into a park.
With the City’s money, the Center City District, which will handle construction of the park before then turning it over to the City, is within striking distance of the $8.6 million required for construction. Center City District is pursuing a $3.5 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.
The entire viaduct, including a below grade and tunnel line that travels from Callowhill to Fairmount Park, is about 3 miles long. The entirety of that stretch is owned by SEPTA, which has cooperated with both the Center City District and the Friends of the Rail Park, a non-profit created to promote the rail-to-park conversion.
The Reading Viaduct Rail Park was inspired by New York City’s High Line Park, and Adam Ganser, Vice President of the Friends of the High Line, spoke about New York’s experience. There, the park was estimated in 2002 to cost $100 million and would accrue $262 million in economic benefits to NYC.