The Kenney Administration has announced plans to use a $2.5 million federal grant to make Philadelphia's deathtrap less dangerous.
Mayor Kenney announced Wednesday that members of the public can attend a series of forums to tell the city how the accident-prone and traffic-heavy Roosevelt Boulevard could be improved.
The U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant awarded in 2014, coupled with another $2.5 million in state and local contributions, will fund four series of forums over the next three years which will lead to recommendations for the boulevard by February 2019. The final proposal will include a plan for the year 2025 and "long-range alternatives" through 2040.
The forums will discuss road safety along with the accessibility and reliability of the boulevard, which takes twice as long to travel by bus than by car.
The 12-lane, 14-mile-long roadway serves as a major north-south corridor through a now densely populated area of North and Northeast Philadelphia. Originally built to handle trolleys in the late 1800s, the route now sees 90,000 vehicles per day accounting for 150,000 trips.
[Editor's note: This story has been corrected to accurately reflect the number of vehicles that use Roosevelt Boulevard each day.]
There were more than 3,000 crashes on the boulevard in the past five years resulting in about 50 deaths. In 2008, Mayor Nutter called the boulevard "one of the most hazardous roads in America," and two intersections on the boulevard made State Farm's 2002 list of the country's most dangerous intersections.
"It's about time we address these problems and make this less of a high-speed road race where you have to dodge high-speed cars," Kenney said.
Philadelphia has spent over two decades trying to improve the boulevard for motorists, pedestrians and bus riders. There are now larger speed limit and pedestrian signs, new red-light cameras, repaired lanes costing $6 million, doubled fines for traffic violations and nearly 500 pedestrian countdown signs installed at 48 locations.
In 2013, the city painted new traffic lines, installed new crosswalk signals and creates 12 police-enforcement pullout areas.
The city will partner with SEPTA and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation throughout the three-year project. The recommendations could include an express service of bus route 14 to reduce travel time, said SEPTA Director of Strategic Planning Byron Comati.
The first set of five forums, run by professional planners and engineers, will take place throughout April at different locations along the boulevard. The first is set for Thursday, April 14 at the Four Points Sheraton.
"What we're trying to do is hopefully do the study that ends all studies," said Michael Carroll, deputy commissioner of transportation for the streets department.
"When we get that feedback from the public, we can start to have a conversation about what makes the most sense."