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Presenting: Wissahickon Gateway Plan DRAFT recommendations!

Updated: May 3, 2019


Wissahickon gateway plan

The plan’s goal is to make it easy to connect to buses, trains, sidewalks, bike trails, and shops at the Wissahickon Gateway.

Our first public meeting and online survey provided us with guidance for our plan recommendations. The results and survey can be found here.

The final public meeting for the Wissahickon Gateway Plan was on May 23rd at Jefferson University’s East Falls Campus in the Downs Hall Auditorium. The meeting presentation boards can be found here.

105 people attended the meeting. 42% of these people live in the Wissahickon neighborhood, 47% in other Northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods, and 11% outside the Northwest. The crowd evenly represented drivers, bicyclists, public transportation riders, and pedestrians.

The purpose of the meeting was to present the draft plan recommendations and receive feedback from attendees. Read about the plan recommendations and public feedback below!

The Vision


The Wissahickon Gateway is a hub for new shops, housing, public transportation, and recreation trails.

Wissahickon Transportation Center Expansion

The Wissahickon Transportation Center (WTC) expansion will have space for 4 new bus routes and 360 new trips.

This includes extension of Routes K and 60, additional service on Routes 124 & 125.

It will also be the last stop for the second phase of the Roosevelt Boulevard Direct Bus. Currently, the Direct Bus runs from Frankford Transportation Center to Neshaminy Mall in 35 minutes during rush hour.

The new WTC will have more waiting space for buses and passengers, and new amenities like shops and a public plaza.


For WTC, the plan recommends:

  1. A formal plaza with an attractive building and lush landscaping

  2. A traffic light and left turn lane

  3. A temporary bicycle and pedestrian path along Ridge Avenue (until Schuylkill River Trail is completed)

  4. Space to connect to and extend the Schuylkill River Trail

  5. Reuse of existing transportation center for the beginning of the trail and a comfort station with shops and a waiting area

  6. Fewer driveways into the WTC to increase safety for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians

Schuylkill River Trail Extension

The Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) is the Philadelphia region’s most popular recreation trail.

Right now, there is a gap in the trail when it runs through the Wissahickon Gateway. Bicyclists and pedestrians must navigate a busy road, narrow sidewalks, buses, and bus riders. The SRT extension will fill this gap!


For the SRT extension, the plan recommends:

  1. A minimum 12-foot wide recreation trail along the river

  2. Riverfront public space areas as part of new development; clearing of vegetation to open river views

  3. Trail lighting from new WTC

  4. Reuse of existing WTC site for Schuylkill / Wissahickon trail entrance and comfort station with bathrooms and water fountains

Road Improvements

Pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and buses all share the tight road space of Ridge Avenue and Main Street. Heavy traffic makes it hard to access to the WTC, existing businesses, and potential development sites.

The roads must be improved before new development can happen. The improvements the Wissahickon Gateway Plan recommends will create more space and separation for pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and buses; improve traffic flow; and beautify the street.


To improve the roads, the plan recommends:

  1. A left turn lane at the existing light on Ridge Avenue for buses to enter the new WTC

  2. A protected bike lane on uphill portion of Ridge Avenue; temporary side path along Ridge Avenue in front of WTC with possible long-term continuation down Main Street

  3. A traffic light and left turn lane on Main Street for new development

  4. Adding a lane to Main Street

  5. Flashing warning signals and signs for the Ridge Avenue pedestrian crossing at Wissahickon Station

  6. Decorative paving, sidewalk lighting, and street trees

The Gateway

The Gateway will greet residents and visitors with three distinct public spaces:

  1. The Wissahickon Transportation Center (WTC) plaza

  2. A trail entrance and comfort station with bathrooms and water fountains at the former WTC

  3. The entrance to Wissahickon Valley Park


Wissahickon Transportation Center (WTC) Plaza will be defined with an attractive building and lush landscaping.

The trail entrance will include the existing 1948 building and will provide a waiting area, bathrooms, water fountains, public plaza, and shops.

The Wissahickon Valley Park entrance will have an attractive signage and landscape improvements to the iconic rock mound that leads up to Wissahickon Regional Rail Station.

These three public spaces will create an beautiful entrance to Northwest Philadelphia!

Development

The 7.7 acres of private land in the Wissahickon Gateway will be developed into stores and apartments.

The land is ideal for this type of development because it is located next to major roads and public transportation. Community groups requested national chains and grocers at this location.

Apartments could be built above stores on the first floor, which would help take development pressure off nearby neighborhoods.

Any new development would need to include road improvements to address traffic.

Buildings would be six stories tall or less. This means the highest number of apartments that could be built is about 350, and the total development would be 150,000 square feet or less.

No zoning changes will occur without a development plan that has community support.


This image represents the full development potential of the Wissahickon Gateway.

Implementation

Support from the City, State, SEPTA, and private land owners is necessary to achieve the vision for the Wissahickon Gateway.

Various publicly- and privately-funded road, transit, and trail projects will need to be built to allow for development, address traffic, and improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and bus riders.


This timeline shows the short-term and long-term development plans and the estimated time needed for design and construction.

Public Comments

The following are a list of the most popular comments we received from meeting attendees:

  • There is a need to improve bus service and facilities for passengers (such as bathrooms and “kiss-and-ride” drop-off)

  • Buses need to be pulled off the street so that they do not block traffic

  • There is huge support for the trail to be built as soon as possible

  • Build a protected bike lane

  • Improve dangerous conditions on Ridge Avenue and Main Street (e.g. driveways, signage, pedestrian crossings)

  • Maintain parking for Canoe Club events

  • Make sure that new development has public space available for the public

  • Make sure that Deke’s BBQ and Cadence Cycling can remain in the Gateway

  • Concern about the potential height and density of apartment buildings and whether they will increase traffic

  • Concerns that new stores will hurt local businesses

  • The community must be involved in future development and road, transit, and trail projects

What’s Next?

  1. City Planning staff will look at comments from the public, city agencies, and other stakeholders; and make changes to the plan accordingly

  2. The draft plan will be posted online on July 1st

  3. The plan will be presented for adoption by the City Planning Commission on July 17th

  4. The final plan will become available online

Once the plan is complete, we will work with:

  • SEPTA to turn the plan's Wissahickon Transportation Center designs into reality

  • Parks & Recreation to extend the Schuylkill River Trail

  • Community groups and property owners to make sure new development is consistent with a shared vision.

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  • Check the Phila2035 website


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