Washington Avenue will be repaved and improved this year from Grays Ferry Avenue to 4th Street. Following extensive public participation in 2020, the City announced what the future roadway design for Washington Avenue was going to be. As design progressed, some neighbors expressed they did not know about opportunities for engagement and requested further conversations. Additionally, due to COVID-19 pandemic delays, the construction timeline had to be pushed to 2022 which provided the time for these additional meetings to take place. Therefore, to ensure inclusion of all who would like to provide input, the City attended in-person meetings following COVID-19 guidelines in 2021.
In 2020, the City also committed to continuing to have conversations with all stakeholders including neighbors, City Council, and local businesses. Responding to requests from local neighbors for more information about the repaving and roadway improvements was and is part of fulfilling that commitment.
The original design options presented in 2020 were based on conversations from previous community engagement as well as improving safety conditions for all users. Washington Avenue is on the City’s Vision Zero High Injury Network and has more crashes than the average Philadelphia street. One of the project goals is to improve safety for all users.
Why continue engagement
In 2021, the City responded to requests from community and Council for more engagement particularly in the Point Breeze and Grays Ferry neighborhoods, where low-income and residents of color have been historically underrepresented in city planning decisions.
During this time, Council received petitions expressing strong opposition to the City’s proposed changes to Washington Avenue. Additionally, neighbors expressed concerns regarding the methods of participation used in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which were mainly digital and did not fulfill equity goals of the Administration. Later in 2021, the City received additional petitions expressing strong support for the City’s proposed changes to Washington Avenue.
- As COVID-19 guidelines changed regarding in-person events, the City’s response took the form of several in-person meetings with Point Breeze and Grays Ferry residents, and RCO’s to understand their concerns
- It also convened an informal open-door working group which included at various times: neighbors on both east and west sides of Washington Avenue, businesses, and advocacy groups such as the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and 5th Square
Open-Door Working Group
An open-door working group formed to obtain direct feedback from constituencies who were under-represented in the online surveys undertaken in 2020.
- The working group provided an open-door forum for different constituencies to hear from each other and share opinions about the future of Washington Avenue
- In late 2021 the working group generated a paper survey
- The City supported this community-led effort and assisted with printing copies
- The survey showed most respondents were still in support of the City’s proposed changes
- The working group also generated evaluation criteria for the City to use in reviewing options for the roadway when it is repaved
The City conducted additional analysis available online, which includes a detailed evaluation of operations, previous traffic study, transit memo, and new traffic counts memo.
As requested by the working group, the City presented today additional information regarding how options for the roadway were evaluated. The materials the City presented during the working group meeting are available online and include a presentation, boards, and the working group’s collective input until this moment.
This additional analysis covered three different layout options (3-lane, 4-lane, mixed) that were first presented to the public in 2020. Because some community members expressed a strong desire for the existing layout (5-lane) to be installed in the future, the City also evaluated the existing conditions in comparison to the proposed options for change.
Based on this additional analysis and evaluations, the City is not considering the existing layout 5-lane option for implementation in 2022. The City is also not considering the 3-lane option alone, as presented in 2020. Considering all public input received, the City is refining the future layout using the mixed layout (which includes sections of both 3-lane and 4-lane) and 4-lane layout.
The future design will also incorporate new ideas generated from engagement with the working group for added traffic safety:
- Emergency vehicle signal preemption (allows ambulance, fire, and police to get green light when responding to emergency)
- Concrete floating bus islands (provides safe, accessible space for transit riders)
- Dynamic signs that show drivers their speed
- The City is requesting studies to install automated red light cameras at key intersections on Washington Avenue, in partnership with PPA
- Where requested, the City will study speed cushions on residential streets near Washington and install where appropriate
- The City wrapped up the working group on February 5, 2022
- The City will host a public open house on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. for anyone who is interested in seeing the finalized plans before construction
- Washington Avenue repaving and improvement project will be installed in 2022
- Community members and businesses will be notified by the Streets Department via RCO networks, email channels, no parking signs, automated calls, and more, before and during construction
Save the date! On Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 6:30 p.m., the City will host a public open house for anyone who is interested in seeing the finalized Washington Avenue plans before construction. It will be held in person at the Christian Street YMCA following COVID-19 guidelines with a virtual option via @PhilaOTIS on Facebook Live!