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Steam Builds For an Overhead Rail Bed Park Through Central Philadelphia

By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Supporters of a proposed linear park on a former railroad right-of-way in Philadelphia gathered this morning at the Union League, in center city, for a roundtable discussion on the project, which would connect three miles of city neighborhoods to Fairmount Park.

Taking a page out of New York City's "High Line," the Rail Park would run along the former Reading Railroad viaduct and the city branch of the old Reading lines.

Local landscape architect Jay DeFelices says the idea is to inject a little more of Mother Nature into more than 50 blocks of concrete urban jungle, "using native plant species, bringing back nature into the city.  A lot of the older cities like this have a lot of concrete corridors.  These are opportunities to have planted corridors that people can use as park space," he said.

Groundbreaking on the ambitious project is expected to take place this year, but panelists cautioned there are still  hurdles in the way, not the least of which being neighborhood concerns.

The advocacy group Friends of the Rail Park is still working to obtain all the funding needed to get phase one off the ground.

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