The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) are currently undertaking significant improvements to a three-mile long section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. Centered on the Girard Avenue Interchange, and encompassing the stretch of highway between the I-676/Vine Street Expressway and Allegheny Avenue Interchanges, the I-95/GIR project winds through portions of the historic Northern Liberties, Kensington-Fishtown, and Port Richmond neighborhoods.
This segment of I-95, which was built in the 1960s and moves nearly 160,000 vehicles day, is now in the process of being rebuilt to improve capacity, operation, safety, and access through the elimination of lane drops and the creation of four continuous lanes in each direction. The improvement plan also includes replacing or rehabilitating 30 bridges along the interstate; adding an auxiliary lane in each direction to connect entrance and exit ramps between the I-676, Girard Avenue and Allegheny Avenue interchanges; reconfiguring the Girard Avenue Interchange to improve access, operation and safety; improving adjacent local streets; and make ground-level enhancements identified by various Delaware River waterfront planning initiatives to reconnect communities to the waterfront, create new public spaces, and incorporate green infrastructure into the project design.
Cultural Resources Regulations, Standards, and Guidelines
Archaeological investigations for the I-95/GIR project are being performed by cultural resource professionals with AECOM, based out of the Burlington, New Jersey office, under a contract with PennDOT Engineering District 6-0. This work is required under to auspices of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and is being conducted in accordance with federal regulations defined in 36 CFR Part 800, particularly sections 800.4, and 800.5; as well as with the standards contained in the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s (PHMC) Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations (2008), and PennDOT’s Cultural Resources Handbook Publication 689.
Archaeological Area of Potential Effects (APE)
PHMC approved the archaeological APE for I-95, Section GIR in February 2001 (ER 01-8007-101) (Appendix A). As defined, APE for this project extends from Race Street to Allegheny Avenue, and is confined to those areas where ground disturbance will occur as a result of project construction. Areas that will be disturbed include those receiving proposed new and/or extended abutments, piers, retaining walls, relocated Richmond Street and temporary access roads, the new storm water basins and utility conduit, new landscaping, and equipment staging and storage areas. From Race Street to Spring Garden Street planned construction work will consist of pavement reconfiguration and bridge rehabilitation, rather than new construction, and as a result no impacts to archaeological resources are anticipated in that section.