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Rail Park to begin construction by end of year with $3.5M state grant

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It’s really happening

With a $3.5 million state grant now in its back pocket, construction on phase 1 of the Rail Park is expected to begin this year.

"I’m ecstatic," says Michael Garden, vice president of the Rail Park’s board of directors.

Center City District, which is managing the project’s construction, was awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program today, along with a long list of other projects in Philadelphia including Gallery Mall. The grant was the final push the Rail Park needed to break ground on the $9.6 million first phase.

The state budget impasse has delayed the Rail Park groundbreaking month and after month, to the point that some questioned whether the project would ever become reality. Not that the CCD and Rail Park haven’t been trying to drum up support for the project. With already $5.1 million raised in January, actor Kevin Bacon’s band hosted a concert earlier this year to raise more funds, and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society chose a site right by the Rail Park as a pop-up park this summer. The proposed park itself even underwent a re-branding to raise more awareness throughout the city.

"We're grateful to the state and the city for supporting phase 1 of our vision for this transformative, three-mile, linear rail park," says Garden.

It's happening!! Link in bio for more news

A photo posted by The Rail Park (@therailpark) on

The exact date for the groundbreaking will be up to the CCD, but it’s expected to be this fall, if not by the end of the year, based on a conversation Garden had with the district’s president Paul Levy earlier today.

When it does break ground, construction is projected to last a full year on the .25-mile stretch of the Rail Park.

Garden says he plans to continue leading his street-level tours along the Reading Viaduct Rail Line during construction.