Awards-winning proposals for Philadelphia incorporate a running track and innovative traffic seperation
Since the expansion of the nation’s highway system, public transit in the United States has often been relegated to the margins of policy, funding and design. Transit Orientated Development (TOD) is a movement focused on encouraging growth and development in a way that leverages the value of local transit. The many benefits, including fewer cars on the road, a greater use of transit, and an improved environment, are integral to the process of adapting cities to sustainable systems.
The Transit Revitalisation Investment District (TRID) Master Plan examined two existing transit stations nestled within deteriorating communities in north Philadelphia. The planning process was designed to develop a collective vision for the future of both station areas — a vision grounded in the intimate knowledge of place shared by those who contribute to its public realm.
Each station is surrounded by vacancy, parking lots or former industrial uses which create physical discontinuities between the transit stop and the nearby neighborhood fabric. Given this context, a design approach requires a re-assertion of the station’s central role in each community and its potential to contribute to the public realm rather than impose upon it. Strategic investments in infrastructure and a mix of new programs are the essential elements in fostering an incremental retro-fit that establishes a new interface between the station and the context.
The plans identified opportunities to inject new activity into these dead spaces while planning for long-term change. A vacant rail viaduct is envisioned as a new tree nursery which would serve the local community’s tree planting initiative. A new running track is proposed to encircle an existing superblock with the goal of activating a current dead zone near the station and providing a home for an existing anti-obesity program which trains youth from low-income families for marathons. These strategies are augmented with a phased set of physical improvements that manages storm water with a network of raingardens, creates new open spaces and establishes an aggressive development approach that seeks to re-knit the physical fabric of the community together around public transit.