Reading Viaduct park finally rising

The rest of the viaduct is owned by California-based Reading International, who has not yet come to an agreement with neighborhood groups regarding its use.

After nearly a decade of speculation surrounding its future, the Reading Viaduct is finally seeing signs of life.

“I’m enthusiastic about the way things have been going lately, especially with the opening of [New York City’s] High Line park,” said John Struble of the Reading Viaduct Project. “More people are seeing what you can do with an old railroad, so there’s a lot of movement.”

The Center City District secured grant funding two weeks ago to conduct a schematic study of the viaduct’s SEPTA-owned portion, which stretches from Callowhill to 13th streets.

“It’s a place everyone has been so anxious for years to see become the neighborhood green space,” said Bryan Haynes, whose design firm is conducting the study. “This neighborhood is really lacking in any kind of parks or open spaces.”

Haynes is in the process of soliciting input at a series of public meetings and hopes to have a viable final design in the next five months. “The support the community has shown so far and the interest of so many different people in the city make it likely it’s all going to come together relatively quickly,” he said.

The renovation of the SEPTA spur is expected to be completed by 2013 at the earliest and will cost between $3 million and $5 million, most of which will be funded by grants.

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