City officials are looking for resident feedback on designing new traffic patterns for Washington Avenue.
A major federally funded repaving and improvement project is slated for 2021, and residents have the opportunity to weigh in on three scenarios and how they could affect neighborhoods, traffic and safety. Proposals include three-lane, four-lane and mixed-lane layouts.
“Over the years, the city has heard many things about Washington Avenue from neighbors and businesses,” Deputy Managing Director Michael Carroll said. “In particular about issues with paving, safety, parking, crossing the street and riding a bicycle on Washington Avenue.”
The portion of Washington Avenue being discussed encompasses from 4th Street to Grays Ferry Avenue. It will connect to a separate project being performed by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation from 4th Street to Columbus Boulevard.
Unlike previous projects, the City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability can’t hold in-person meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the department is seeking different ways to include input from residents and motorists.
“Because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, in-person, open houses and community meetings are not currently permitted,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Therefore, we are communicating and seeking resident feedback on Washington Avenue through multiple channels, including an online survey, phone calls, text messages, email and direct mail.”
Residents can get up to speed by watching a series of short videos by visiting www.bit.ly/ImproveWashington. Videos are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese and they outline three different proposals for residents to add feedback.
After watching videos, residents can fill out a short survey, or send suggestions via phone or text to 215-436-9886, or email VisionZero@phila.gov.
The City will review all input received in order to help select the future roadway layout for Washington Avenue.
“Our goal is to improve Washington Avenue for everyone,” Kenney said. “That includes creating a smoother street by repaving the entire road in the year 2021 and creating safer and shorter pedestrian crossings. We also want to improve parking, loading and add protection between bicycles and moving traffic.”
Washington Avenue was last paved in 2003 and has been criticized for outdated and dangerous traffic patterns for motorists and pedestrians.
Traffic studies between 2012 and 2018 show that there were 254 motor vehicle accidents on Washington Avenue, including four fatalities and several other serious injuries.
Other problems include double-parked cars and long-term parking along the avenue, which currently don’t have restrictions.
“We took what we heard, and we looked at Washington Avenue today,” Carroll said. “We used that analysis to come up with several layout options for Washington Avenue. All three options would make Washington Avenue a safer, more functional roadway than it is today.”
Officials say all three proposed options will create a smoother street, create safer and shorter pedestrian crossings, improve parking and loading, improve protection between bicycles and moving traffic, reduce speeding and maintain steady traffic flow, and improve SEPTA Route 64 bus stops.
“Plans also call for enhancements to the (Route) 64 bus stops along Washington Avenue,” Kenney said. “Our engineers have also examined ways to reduce speeding and aggressive driving along this corridor. All proposed options offer a safer, more functional roadway than it is today.”