Mechanical street sweeper trucks, backpack blowers and compactors will deploy weekly for cleaner streets

PHILADELPHIA – In cooperation with other city officials, Mayor Jim Kenney announced today the launch of a new Mechanical Street Cleaning Pilot Program in six neighborhoods. The program will run from April through November.

As part of the city’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and Five-Year Plan, Mayor Jim Kenney proposed historic investments in streets including a $2.3 million annual investment in street cleaning to reduce litter on the City’s streets and sidewalks.

“Watching our city get dumped on day after day seriously burns me up,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “It is the reason why I have fought to bring back a residential mechanical sweeping program. Being able to restore this program in the neighborhoods that need it most is something I am very proud of, and I thank the Streets Department for their work on putting this pilot together.”

The City’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet focuses on developing strategies and solutions to reduce the waste entering landfills or conventional incinerators, combat litter, and enhance the cleanliness of streets and public spaces. Mechanical cleaning is the latest action the city is taking to ramp up its means for addressing litter.

“I commend Mayor Kenney’s administration and the Streets Department for launching the street cleaning pilot in Southwest. I am proud of the targeted work we are doing to reduce illegal dumping, abandoned cars, and auto chop shop in my district and I think this street sweeping pilot is a step in the right direction for our city, and for Southwest Philadelphia, to improve quality of life and get us closer to our Zero Waste and Litter goals here,” said Councilman Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District). “I am hopeful about expanding the program moving forward.”

“Using the Litter Index we’ve spent the last two years collecting data to identify the areas of the city where litter and trash debris are most prevalent,” said Managing Director Brian Abernathy. “More importantly, we identified the areas of the city where mechanical cleaning will be most effective.”

The Mechanical Street Cleaning Pilot Program will be piloted in six residential areas:

  • West Philadelphia – Parkside Ave. to Lancaster Ave., from 52nd St. to Girard Ave.
  • Southwest – Woodland Ave. to Kingsessing Ave., from 49th St. to Cemetery Ave.
  • Kensington – 2nd St. to Aramingo Ave., from Tioga St. to Lehigh Ave.
  • Strawberry Mansion – Sedgley St. to Lehigh Ave., from 29th St. to 33rd St.
  • Logan – Godfrey Ave. to Roosevelt Blvd., from Broad. St to 5th St.
  • South Philadelphia – McKean St. to Oregon Ave., from 4th St. to 8th St.

The estimated cost of additional personnel to implement the pilot program is approximately $425,000 for the remainder of FY19. An additional allocation for four mechanical brooms at $280K per vehicle will support the street cleaning operation.

“This equipment represents an important investment in our goal to provide safe, sustainable and clean transportation around our city,” said Mike Carroll, Deputy Managing Director of the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (oTIS). “Mechanical cleaning supports the city’s efforts to make Philadelphia streets safer and, keeping streets free of debris will ensure they provide a good and safe experience for all users.”

This pilot program is more comprehensive than standard mechanical sweeping. It will help to clear loose litter on sidewalks and other items not easily accessible with a standard mechanical sweeper.

“Along with mechanical broom cleaning there will be sidewalk removal of litter and debris through back pack blowers and hand brooms. There will also be compactors used to remove illegally dumped materials,” said Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams. “Residents are not mandated to move their vehicles but we strongly encourage it so our broom cleaning can be most impactful removing litter from the curb lines”, added Commissioner Williams. “We understand residents are challenged with moving their vehicles in areas that are densely populated. Some residential areas are tight and finding parking spots can be challenging.”

The structure and sequence of the operations in each pilot area will be:

  1. Trash and recycling will be collected on the regular scheduled collection day.
  2. Streets Department laborers equipped with back pack blowers and hand brooms will clean each pilot route the day after trash and recycling collection.
  3. Mechanical brooms will follow cleaning crews once debris is blown off sidewalks and curb lines. Residents will be encouraged but not required to move vehicles during this period to facilitate a more detailed cleaning.
  4. To ensure cleaning is maintained SWEEP Officers will patrol neighborhoods to address Sanitation code violations related to litter.

The Mechanical Street Cleaning Pilot Program is the next step the City has taken to partner with residents and deliver services that allow them to live on clean and beautiful blocks and feel safe in their neighborhoods. As this is a pilot program, the Streets Department will conduct a follow-up index to measure the conditions after the pilot is implemented to determine the success of the program.

Residents are reminded that the Mechanical Street Cleaning Pilot Program supports community led efforts to clean blocks. City Sanitation regulations must still be adhered to including setting trash out on regular trash day in the authorized location. Only household trash should be set out for pick up. Visit for specific regulations.