Updated Mar 2, 2022 - News

Philadelphia unveils latest redesign plan for Washington Avenue

Illustration of a road with multiple track hurdles on a green background.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

South Philadelphia's Washington Avenue — considered one of the most dangerous roads in the city — would be repaved and have its lanes reduced in some areas under the city's latest redesign plan unveiled Tuesday.

Why it matters: Residents and city officials have debated over the future of the highly trafficked, five-lane corridor for nearly a decade.

  • The roadway logged 254 crashes between 2012 and 2018, resulting in four deaths and seven serious injuries.

What's happening: The city released its latest design proposal to address safety and traffic issues along 22 blocks of the roadway from Grays Ferry Avenue to Fourth Street.

  • "We feel like this approach is going to substantially improve the safety over what people see today," Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, said in a virtual news conference Tuesday.

Details: Under the plans, the street would remain five lanes for four blocks around the intersection with Broad Street.

  • Other portions of the road would slim down to four lanes (for eight blocks) and three lanes (10 blocks). Pedestrian crossing distances would also be reduced.
  • Safety improvements include separated bicycle lanes, rumble strips, bus boarding islands and speed cushions.

Of note: The cost for the repaving is $6.2 million, of which nearly $5 million is federally funded, according to the administration.

  • The safety improvements are estimated to cost another $2 million.

The intrigue: Last month, the Kenney administration ditched its original 2020 plan to reduce the entire roadway to three lanes after receiving more public input, drawing the ire of traffic safety advocates.

  • The delayed project was slated to begin last year.

What to watch: The project hinges on support from the Philly City Council.

  • While city legislators must pass legislation for only certain parts of the project, like parking changes, Carroll said the entire project won't move forward without it.
  • "We'll see how that process plays out. It's out of the administration’s hands at this point," he said.

What's ahead: The city says to expect the road repaving and some improvements later this year.

  • Others, like automated red-light cameras in particular, won't arrive until at least next year.

Editor's note: This story has been updated after the city revised the cost of repaving Washington Avenue to $6.2 million, not $15.2 million.


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