Forty-one stainless steel light masts, each rising 55 feet, are being installed along North Broad Street, a project Mayor Nutter on Wednesday said would make the stretch a "more attractive, safer, better-lighted, certainly, and inviting place to walk for customers and residents."
Standing in front of one of the first four masts to be installed, Nutter said he hoped the $8.7 million project - funded through a mix of state, federal, and city money - would spur more private investment along the corridor, which has long lacked the investments enjoyed by portions of the Avenue of the Arts just a few blocks south.
"North Broad Street is well on its way to being one of the noisiest corridors," Nutter said as a construction truck rumbled by. "No, I'm sorry, to being of course the city's next great corridor. . . . We want to take virtually any steps we can to promote and support this growth and development."
Nutter said the remaining masts, which will be illuminated through lights contained inside the mesh casing, will be installed by the end of fall. Once functional, they will be lit from dusk to dawn. The Streets Department expects to begin testing the first ones as soon as this week.
They will cover 2.5 miles, starting at Hamilton Street (just south of Spring Garden Street) and ending at Glenwood Avenue (near the North Philadelphia railroad station).
City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, whose district includes the area, said the project sends "the appropriate signal that North Broad Street, we are here, and we are here in a big way."
But he added that for the area to continue to improve, "somebody needs to take responsibility for the long-term sustainability" of the corridor. He said Avenue North Renaissance - a nonprofit formed in 2014 as a counterpart to the Avenue of the Arts, a nonprofit responsible for development on a large swath of Broad Street - would play that role.
Clarke and Nutter both cited a list of projects along North Broad as evidence the area is improving, including new restaurants and housing, and the planned renovation of the Divine Lorraine Hotel.
"We have a lot of opportunity here on North Broad Street, and certainly, literally lighting it up, whether it's decorative or functional lighting, is a key component for future investment," Nutter said.
The masts were first proposed several years ago. Clarke said the project was delayed for many reasons, including challenges coordinating the multi-jurisdiction funding, receiving state approval, and finding time to install the posts along the busy roadway.