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Park over I-95 in Philadelphia will reconnect Old City to Delaware River, close highway overnight

Groundbreaking held in Philadelphia for new park that will connect Old City to the Delaware River
Groundbreaking held in Philadelphia for new park that will connect Old City to the Delaware River 02:49

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A project on Philadelphia's Delaware River waterfront more than a decade in the making is kicking off this week - and will be in the works for several years.

Officials gathered at Penn's Landing on Wednesday for a ceremonial groundbreaking for The Park at Penn's Landing. The park will sit over I-95 between Walnut and Chestnut Streets.

"To provide a more seamless physical and visual connection between the Old City neighborhood and the Delaware River," Alan Hoffmann, chair of the board of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, said at the event.

CBS News Philadelphia

The park will feature green spaces, a playground, an ice skating rink, an amphitheater and an arch bridge.

"A place of recreation, a place to gather, a place to show off what's so great about Philly, and to finally reconnect our waterfront to downtown," Gov. Josh Shapiro said. "We are all-in in the commonwealth, we see this as vital not just for the city, but for the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

Officials at the groundbreaking said I-95 has long served as a barrier cutting the city off from the river.

The $329 million project is getting funding from federal, state, city and private partners. It's been a dream for more than a decade, going all the way back to former Mayor John Street -- surviving multiple mayors and governor's to get to this point.  

But it's real roots stretch back to the 70s – when I-95 was built. While the interstate brought a major economic driver to the area, officials say it cut the city off from the riverfront.  

The project is expected to take four to six years to complete.

"The city estimates $1.6 billion return on investment over the next 25 years," Mayor Jim Kenney said. "This is going to be great for business in Old City, Society Hill and Independence Park."  

I-95 cap project will result in overnight road closures for years

We also asked PennDOT how this project will affect traffic. PennDOT says they will try minimize the impacts from the construction to I-95, but it will result in overnight road closures between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday through Thursday.

Traffic can move through the area as normal on Fridays and weekends. 

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