Tractor-trailers are a too-frequent sight on Richmond Street, business owner Tom LaCroix said.
"For years, Richmond Street has been unbearable, impassable at times," said LaCroix, owner of an Allstate Insurance office in the neighborhood.
A Delaware Avenue extension, for a sixth of a mile, that will give trucks an alternative route of travel between Bridesburg and Port Richmond opened to traffic Tuesday morning. The $14.5 million extension, funded with federal dollars, passes though an industrialized area on land once used for parking between Orthodox and Lewis Streets and over Frankford Creek. The two-lane road is adjacent to a sidewalk on the west side and a 10- to 12-foot-wide pedestrian and biking trail on the east, designed to be part of the Circuit, a more than 300-mile network of trails threading through the Philadelphia area.
"All users have the right to use our roads safely," Mayor Nutter said at a ribbon cutting for the road.
Denise Goren, director of the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, described the project as the first new road to open in the city in 30 years.
By 2020, officials hope to see Delaware Avenue extended as far as the Frankford Arsenal, where it is planned to link with I-95. The future of the project also includes a 10-acre riverfront park in Bridesburg. A master plan for that park will be presented at a Dec. 16 community meeting at the American Legion post on Salmon Street.
Neighbors and politicians have been discussing a Delaware Avenue extension since the 1990s, said former U.S. Rep. Robert Borski, chairman of the Delaware River City Corp. Work did not begin until March 2014, though.
The future extension is expected to be paid for by the state Department of Transportation as part of an I-95 expansion project currently underway.