PHILADELPHIA – The City announced today that it will reconfigure Washington Avenue from its current five-lane layout to a mixed-lane layout between 4th Street to Grays Ferry Avenue as part of a repaving project scheduled for later this year. 

The mixed-lane layout design was proposed by the City in 2020 as an option to achieve the Washington Avenue Repaving and Improvement project goals, and has been part of the City’s ongoing conversations with the community since then. 

“It has been a long process getting to this point and I deeply appreciate the passion that members of the public on different sides of this issue have contributed. OTIS is fully committed to safety and by implementing this road diet we are convinced that we will improve the safety of Washington Avenue and do so in a way that balances concerns regarding neighborhood traffic calming, circulation, and business access,” said Deputy Managing Director for Transportation Mike Carroll. “This project closes a nine-year journey and will provide the community with a freshly paved street. It also gives us a fresh opportunity to make refinements, and to build more consensus on future improvements that can make Washington Avenue work even better for everyone.”

Washington Avenue is on the City’s Vision Zero High Injury Network and has more crashes than the average Philadelphia street. The road has not been repaved since 2003 and combining street improvements with a repaving project is an efficient use of City funding. This is an opportunity to improve the safety and function of Washington Avenue, fulfilling one of the project’s main goals to improve mobility for all users who travel along the road. 

Washington Avenue in South Philadelphia is split between two different City Council Districts. Councilmember Mark Squilla (First District) represents Washington Avenue from the Delaware River up to Broad Street. Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Second District) represents Washington Avenue from Broad Street up to Grays Ferry Avenue. 

“I want to thank OTIS for taking the additional time to hear from all voices in the community concerning Washington Avenue,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson. “I always wanted to make sure that the public comment process on Washington Avenue was diverse and inclusive and reflected the views of all residents, including the business owners and long-term residents of the neighborhoods of Grays Ferry, Point Breeze, Graduate Hospital and east of Broad Street, who would be impacted by the new design of Washington Avenue.”

“The goal of everyone in this process–elected officials, OTIS and residents–is to make Washington Avenue much safer than it is today,” Johnson continued.

The proposed design for Washington Avenue has been modified with improvements in 2022, specifically regarding pedestrian safety. These improvements include: 

  • Pedestrian head start signal timing (or leading pedestrian interval)
  • Speed cushions and speed slots
  • Soft rumble strips
  • Corner wedges
  • Hardened centerlines at select locations
  • Automated red light cameras
    • Installation of automated red light enforcement cameras will take place next year on the corridor in partnership with the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), the program administrator. 
  • Bus boarding islands
    • Bus boarding islands installed at street level with the paving project will be upgraded to concrete islands next year in partnership with SEPTA.

Out of 22 total blocks from 4th Street to Grays Ferry Avenue, the mixed option will incorporate the following cross sections and protected bike lanes (see map below):

  • Four blocks with existing five lane cross sections from 16th to 12th Streets
  • Eight blocks with four lane cross sections from Grays Ferry Avenue to 25th Street, 20th Street to 16th Street, 12th Street to 10th and 5th to 4th Street
  • 10 blocks that have three lane cross sections from 25th Street to 20th Street and 10th Street to 5th Street
  • 18 blocks with protected bike lanes from Grays Ferry Avenue to 16th Street and 12th Street to 4th Street

The City will host a public open house tonight, Tuesday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Christian Street YMCA on 1724 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19146 where members of the public are invited to take a closer look at the design and ask questions. The event will also be live streamed via Facebook/PhilaOTIS.

“I look forward to the Washington Avenue meeting tonight and to hearing the community response as OTIS presents their proposal to improve safety for all users of the avenue,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla. 

Parking and loading regulations will be reviewed via a City Council process. Legislation is needed to implement these regulations.This process will include public hearings where members of the public can provide testimony. 

The City will continue to engage with the PPA and anticipates enforcement of parking and loading on the corridor will continue and likely increase. 

Repaving work will begin later this year. Community members and businesses will be notified by the City via Registered Community Organization (RCO) networks, email channels, no parking signs, automated calls, and more, before and during construction. 

The City has been in conversation with the community since 2013 and the announced mixed lane design responds to what we have heard from the community. While this announcement is the culmination of the community engagement process for the repaving project, the City will continue to communicate about Washington Avenue to the public, residents and businesses.

A detailed document explaining the mixed-lane option, and next steps for Washington Avenue’s Repaving & Improvement Project can be found online