Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter, along with City and State Officials, visited the construction site at Race Street Pier on Tuesday, November 9th, for a groundbreaking ceremony. Race Street Pier, formerly known as Pier 11, is presently being reconstructed into a one-acre public park for Philadelphia residents and tourists. Built circa 1900 at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, Pier 11 was once used by national and international steamships carrying fruit, salt, and cargo. Tom Corcoran, President of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, says “the new Race Street Pier is an early action project of the Civic Vision which will set new standards of excellence in design and public input and will have far reaching impact beyond this new park.”
The revitalization of Race Street Pier is the first stage in Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s efforts to connect Philadelphia residents and tourists to the Delaware River. “After years of planning and discussion, the revitalization of the Delaware River waterfront is beginning to quickly take shape, driven by world-class design and community involvement,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Race Street Pier will be a spectacular new park which will engage people from the adjacent neighborhoods, people from all parts of the City and tourists in a wonderful new way to experience the majestic Delaware River. We are truly creating a waterfront that will be enjoyed by generations of Philadelphians to come.”
In April 2009, W.J. Castle & Associates, P.C. (CASTLE) was selected to begin engineering and design work on the Race Street Pier rehabilitation. “This project is much different from previous CASTLE projects. Typically, our rehabilitation projects are for the purpose of a structure regaining its original function. The Race Street Pier rehabilitation is unique in that the function of the structure will be changing completely,” says Richard Parisi, P.E. of The Castle Group. In the first stage of the project, CASTLE performed an inspection of the entire 80’ x 540’ pier, both above and below the water’s surface. Some of the findings included deteriorated steel trusses, timber splitting among the piles, and spalling on the concrete decks which needed patching.
After CASTLE’s rehabilitation design was submitted, Hydro-Marine Construction (HYDRO) bid on the construction portion of the project, was the low bidder, and was awarded the project. The preliminary steps included cleaning the debris from the pier and demolishing the unused fender system. Once these were completed, HYDRO then rehabilitated the steel support trusses, timber piles, pile caps, and concrete decks, followed by prep work for the upcoming landscaping.
Civil engineers Langan Engineering & Environmental Services and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations were contracted by DRWC and the City of Philadelphia for park designs and planning. CASTLE helped with the pier structure modification in order to accommodate the park designs. This included designing the support in the deck for 12 tree boxes, reshaping of the decking and pier nose, and the support for the edges of the pier for the walkway pavers. HYDRO’s rehabilitation of the pier is predicted to be completed in late 2010 with the landscaping and paving to be completed in the Spring of 2011.
The new Race Street Pier will be split into two levels. The upper level will feature a grand sky promenade and the lower level will provide space for recreation and social gathering. One of the last phases of the project will involve planting 37 fully grown trees into the park. For $2,500, a tree can be donated by a local resident, company or organization. At this time, ten trees have been donated.
“The Castle Group has worked with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation on a number of projects to rehabilitate structures along the Delaware River in recent years,” says Melissa Stein, a Castle Group Representative. “We’re excited to be playing such a crucial role in the revitalization of the Delaware River waterfront. The transformation of Race Street Pier into a public park is a project that will give life to the City of Philadelphia and impact residents and tourists for years to come.”