Mar 2, 2022 - News

Philadelphia's Washington Avenue redesign struggles to get support

Illustration of the Philadelphia skyline with word balloons filled with exclamation points popping up over it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Groups on either side of the debate appear unenthused about the city's latest Washington Avenue redesign plan.

  • Some are raising concerns that it could hurt the community and businesses, while others want more pedestrian and bicycle safety features.

What they're saying: Claudia Sherrod, a member of the Washington Avenue Coalition, worried the redesign would spur gentrification and lead to the loss of businesses.

  • "The proposed changes ignore the history of Washington Avenue, which has been a mecca for diverse ethnic groups," Sherrod said. "The needs of existing long-term business owners and residents are being trampled by developers yet for greater profits."

Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said the plan appeared to lack needed pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements in some areas.

  • "Unfortunately, it's not as good as the three-lane option that they originally proposed, and that's really regrettable," she said. "There is still room for areas where they can improve."

Gabriel Pechaceck, founder of the Washington Avenue Association of Businesses and Residents, said he's "not a huge fan" of the plan.

  • His primary concern centered around the proposal to reduce the number of traffic lanes and to merge lanes along the different portions of the roadway, saying it would push more traffic to neighboring streets and hurt businesses.
  • "It's a safety concern too because we're taking a gamble — a gamble with businesses and residents on Washington," Pechaceck said.

Between the lines: The project extends through City Councilmembers Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla's districts, so the legislation tied to the redesign must secure their support.

  • Squilla will "take the reaction of the stakeholders into consideration to determine how the plan will move forward," his spokesperson said.
  • Johnson's spokesperson told Axios the councilmember is "still reviewing the plan."

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