City releases Washington Avenue repaving and improvement plans

A bicyclist crosses Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia. | Contributed photo

City officials recently announced official plans to reconfigure Washington Avenue between 4th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue from its current five-lane layout to a mixed-lane layout as part of its repaving project scheduled for later this year.

The design chosen by the city will see four blocks remain at their current length of five lanes, eight blocks shrink to four lanes, 10 blocks shrink to three lanes, and pedestrian crossing shrunk from 50 feet to either 33 or 40 feet. 

This comes two years after the city initially approved a primarily three-lane design, but walked back on the decision in February following discussions with residents, bike advocates, businesses and urbanists. City officials believe the hybrid design best takes into account the needs of all parties. 

Hybrid plan outlined by OTIS. | Courtesy of City of Philadelphia

“It has been a long process getting to this point and I deeply appreciate the passion that members of the public on different sides of this issue have contributed,” said Deputy Managing Director for Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability Mike Carroll in a press release. “OTIS is fully committed to safety and by implementing this road diet we are convinced that we will improve the safety of Washington Avenue and do so in a way that balances concerns regarding neighborhood traffic calming, circulation and business access.” 

The design will also feature 18 protected bike lanes as well as bus-boarding islands in up to 24 locations.

In addition, traffic-calming tactics will be paired with the lane paving and reconfiguration. That includes pedestrian head start timing, speed cushions and slots, soft rumble splits, corner wedges, hardened center lines and automated red light cameras.

“The goal of everyone in this process – elected officials, OTIS and residents – is to make Washington Avenue much safer than it is today,” said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.