U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Philadelphia area officials to break ground on construction to renovate Dilworth Plaza, a project that reflects President Obama's blueprint for an "America Built to Last" by transforming the deteriorated public plaza next to Philadelphia's City Hall into a prominent gateway for regional public transportation.
The secretary was joined at the groundbreaking by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, Congressman Chaka Fattah, Mayor Michael Nutter and other area officials.
"President Obama has challenged us to build an economy that works for everyone, and with the work starting today, Dilworth Plaza will meet that challenge," said Secretary LaHood. "All across America, there is work to be done on projects like this. Now is the time to connect people who need work with the work we need to do to improve our nation's transit centers, highways, railways, airports and ports."
Secretary LaHood's visit follows President Obama's State of the Union address, in which he called for using funds saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down the debt and to support a transportation bill that would clear the way for nation building here in the United States.
In addition to improving access to multiple transit connections and spurring economic development in the key area surrounding city hall, the project is expected to create hundreds of local construction-related jobs. The renovation will create an inviting, accessible public space at the street level and access to Philadelphia's extensive network of underground transit lines.
"Philadelphia can take pride in this fantastic revitalization of a great public space, being rebuilt to last as part of President Obama's commitment to rebuild America," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "This project is creating jobs at a time they are needed most and making it easier for the hundreds of thousands of people who take public transit to access Center City."
Located on the west side of Philadelphia's City Hall, Dilworth Plaza sits atop the intersection of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority's (SEPTA) Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines, subway-surface trolley lines serving University City, West Philadelphia and adjacent suburbs, and regional rail lines. More than 300,000 transit riders use those lines each day to access downtown Philadelphia.
As part of the Dilworth Plaza renovation, glass entrances with animated lighting at night will clearly direct riders to transit lines. In addition, the plaza's new design, which includes a large lawn, shaded seating areas, fountain and outdoor café, will create an inviting space accessible from the street without the use of stairs or ramps.
The $50 million Dilworth Plaza project is being funded by a $15 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant by the Obama Administration, a $15.5 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and additional funding from the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA and from local foundations.