U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia on Friday 8/19/22 (Philadelphia Tribune photo).
By Stephen Williams
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia has received $25 million to fix some of the city’s most dangerous streets in underserved areas by upgrading traffic signals, adding new paving, signage, speed bumps and by fixing potholes.
The funding is for the “Great Streets PHL,” project to make safety improvements on dangerous roads in historically underserved communities suffering from persistent poverty. The money comes from a Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity Grant (RAISE), funded by the Infrastructure and Jobs Act.
“We are here to talk about safety. This is a huge investment for the city of Philadelphia, especially communities that have historically been left out of the infrastructure investments,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said during a Friday news conference in the city.
“By making these roads safer for drivers and pedestrians alike, we are making neighborhoods across Philadelphia safer places to live work and play,” Casey said.
The work is expected to begin in 2025, after extensive discussions with community organizations and stakeholders. The improvements will also create jobs at prevailing wages, Casey said.
Casey made his comments outside Temple University Hospital at Broad and Tioga streets, along with Mayor Jim Kenney, Michael A. Carroll, deputy managing director in the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) and several Temple officials.
“This program will bring traffic safety and other significant upgrades to streets throughout our city, where residents can see and benefits from it, right where they live,” Kenney said. “It will also help create good-paying jobs for Philadelphians, especially those too often underrepresented in transportation and construction.”
Kenney thanked the Biden-Harris administration, Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg, and the entire Philadelphia congressional delegation for passing the infrastructure legislation.
Carrol, the deputy manager director, said the West Tioga corridor — between 5th Street and 15th Street — is one of seven roads designated as some of the most dangerous in Philadelphia and are listed as a Vision Zero safety priority and on the city’s High Injury Network. In 2020, more than 150 people died in traffic accidents throughout the city.
“We are here today to acknowledge a once in a generation opportunity to invest in safety, opportunity and quality of life here on West Tioga Street and anticipate meaningful impacts on a stretch of Tioga from 15th Street to 5th Street, all the way into Fairhill,” Carrol said.
In 2020, more than 150 people died due to traffic crashes throughout the city.
Carroll said help is on the way to six other high-crash corridors including 11th Street from Master Street to Diamond Street in North Philadelphia; Limekiln Pike from Medary Avenue to Haines Street in Northwest Philadelphia; Longshore Avenue from Roosevelt Boulevard to Frontenac Street in the Northeast; Westminster Avenue, from 40th Street to 52nd Street; Springfield Avenue, from 51st Street to 57th Street in West Philadelphia and North 57th Street from Upland Way to Wynnefield Avenue in West Philadelphia.
“West Tioga, like each of these streets, manifests the many challenges that the bi-partisan infrastructure legislation is intended to address,” Carroll said.
In the past five years, there were 45 traffic accidents on West Tioga, 27 of those took place between Broad Street and Old York Road, Carroll said. “The risk of tragedy can never be minimized. There are too many streets like this in the city.”
The crash rate on Tioga is three times higher than the city’s average and there are five elementary schools in a quarter-mile radius of the West Tioga corridor, he said.
The money will be used to fix pot holes, add better lighting and upgrade traffic signals. About half of the city’s traffic signals have not been updated since the 1970s.
In addition, there will be improved signing, fresh striping and lower speed limits and speed cushion and the streets will be repaved.
“There will be substantial safety traffic upgrades, including raised cross walks, upgrade traffic signals, modern walk signals with count down timers to give pedestrians lead time to start crossing the intersection,” Carroll said.
Stephen Williams is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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