A crash that involved at least 15 cars shut down lanes on Roosevelt Boulevard, a thoroughfare long plagued by traffic and safety issues and fatal crashes, police said.
The pileup, which began shortly after 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, was the result of black ice on the southbound lanes of the Roosevelt Boulevard Extension near the Broad Street exit, police said. The black ice was due to a construction crew contracted by PennDot that watered the road at night, PennDot spokesperson Robyn Briggs said.
The construction crew used a weeper hose to soak freshly poured cement overnight, Briggs said. But the water overflowed past barriers between the cement and the road, causing water to run into the driving lanes, she said. As the temperature dropped, a patch of ice formed.
The ice caused three separate crashes, each involving as many as five cars, police said. Five of the 15 cars involved needed to be towed away due to extensive damage.
No injuries or fatalities were reported, police said.
The construction crew was working for South State Inc., the contractor hired by PennDot to work on a project rehabilitating a section of Roosevelt Boulevard, said Briggs. The phased project, which is scheduled to be completed next spring, is an overhaul of the thoroughfare from Wissahickon Avenue to Broad Street.
The project involves repairing substructure concrete and placing a new concrete deck on the southbound right lane, according to the project’s website.
As a response to the crash, South State will not irrigate the cement at night and put down salt to melt the ice. South State declined to comment when reached by phone.
Roosevelt Boulevard was closed between Ninth Street and Kelly Drive. By midmorning, both sides of the road were back open, according to 511PA.
Roosevelt Boulevard has long dealt with dangerous conditions and a high incidence of fatal accidents. In 2018, Roosevelt Boulevard had one of its deadliest years, with at least 21 fatal crashes.
The 12-lane thoroughfare runs through residential and business development and traffic often far exceeds the 45-mph speed limit, making it a dangerous road. Of the 12 people killed in 2018, 10 were pedestrians.
As part of a citywide push to improve traffic safety, the city activated automated enforcement cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard in June 2020. Speeding violations on the road dropped 93% in the first nine months after the cameras were installed, the Philadelphia Parking Authority previously reported.
Citations for drivers traveling 11 miles over the posted limit also fell drastically, just one month after they were activated. The cameras were authorized as part of a law signed by Gov. Tom Wolf specifically geared toward improving safety along Roosevelt Boulevard.
The pileup was the second significant crash on Roosevelt Boulevard in the last day. Shortly before 6:30 p.m. Monday, a motorist driving northbound struck a female pedestrian, Philadelphia police said. The woman was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly after, police said.