American Street Improvement Project

Bordering the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods of Lower North Philadelphia lies American Street – a 2.2 mile long, 17-block stretch of roadway extending through what was once a bustling center of industry and commerce. This corridor now encompasses a variety of mixed uses, including industrial, commercial, and residential. American Street was selected as a major urban renewal project combining streetscape, landscape, green stormwater infrastructure, accessibility and pedestrian safety, and multimodal transportation improvements. A unique feature of this project is its scale: two miles long with a 120-foot wide right-of-way. This large scale provided significant opportunity to make major improvements to the function and safety of the corridor and allow for the management and treatment of millions of gallons of stormwater.


City of Philadelphia, Department of Streets

Philadelphia, PA

Market Segment



Kevin Selger, R.L.A., L.L.A., LEED AP®
Vice President

American Street:  An Innovative Approach to Project Implementation & Stormwater Management in an Urban Setting

After many years of discussions and plans, the City’s Streets, Water, Planning, and Commerce Departments, Philadelphia Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems, elected officials, and community members united around a common vision for the corridor that:

  • preserves and invests in the corridor’s remaining industries as part of a broader effort to connect and revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods.
  • improves accessibility and safety for all corridor users by remodeling an expansive debilitated vehicular cartway into a refurbished roadway with modern accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, cars, and trucks.
  • provides significant green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) facilities that would treat millions of gallons of stormwater and reduce the amount of runoff volume exacerbating combined sewer overflows.

In 2015, the City of Philadelphia, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, was a successful applicant for a $5M USDOT TIGER Grant. In an aggressive 14-month timeframe, the City selected the design team of Gilmore & Associates, Inc. (G&A), Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), KMJ Consulting, Inc. (KMJ) and Malick & Scherer, P.C. (M&S) to develop concepts, undertake significant public and stakeholder outreach, complete designs and engineering, and secure all approvals. G&A provided overall leadership and management of the project, and led the design of the GSI, utility infrastructure, streetscape, and landscape.

The American Street Improvement Project was a City of Philadelphia Multi-Agency partnership between the Department of Streets, Philadelphia Water Department, and the Department of Commerce. The Department of Streets was the lead agency, but it was the true partnership between the City agencies that allowed the project to be developed as a complete street, beyond just repaving a roadway in disrepair. The project improved walkability and pedestrian safety, increased green space and planted trees, added facilities to support multi-modal transit including dedicated protected bike lanes, and incorporated a significant amount of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to disconnect the majority of the roadway and portions of the surrounding streets from the combined sewer system.

G&A served as the prime technical consultant for the City of Philadelphia’s redevelopment of the 2.2 mile road/rail corridor.  Fueled by the federally funded TIGER grant, retrofitting Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) within the streetscape was an essential component of the redevelopment plan, and integrated the City’s “Complete Streets” vision with their Green City, Clean Waters initiative.  The streetscape helps to revitalize this historically industrial corridor with mixed use vibrancy and multi-modal accessibility, while creating up to 46 “Greened Acres” of runoff diverted from the City’s combined sewer system.

In addition to serving as overall project manager, G&A led a significant public engagement effort, and designed GSI, streetscape improvements, and public spaces, and provided multi-phased environmental and geotechnical studies within the corridor, including infiltration testing supporting the GSI design.

G&A has been honored to accept two project awards on behalf of the entire design team. In 2018 the Team was awarded the Innovative Transportation Solution Award from WTS Philadelphia and in 2022 the Public Project winner for Excellence in GSI from SBN (Sustainable Business Network.) The G&A Team was honored to be part of one of the largest public GSI projects completed in the city of Philadelphia, working in partnership with City offices, design team professionals, and the community who invested so much of their time helping to ensure the success of this one of a kind complete streets renovation.