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Public Safety, Department of
Bureau of Traffic Engineering

[Record group 83-5]
Agency Function
The Bureau of Traffic Engineering made traffic surveys, and planned and supervised the installation of highway traffic-control systems. It installed and maintained the traffic signal systems, signs and markers, and operated the signal systems; determined detours and routing of traffic; and advised the Bureau of Police. on traffic enforcement. The traffic engineers also cooperated in the preparation of traffic regulations, analyzed accident records to recommend and in some cases institute remedial measures, and accumulate information for the improvement in the administration of traffic and for educational purposes.
The Chief of the Bureau served as Secretary of the Philadelphia Highway Traffic Board and as a member of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission's technical advisory committee on transportation.

Agency History
With the advent of the automobile, the City's responsibility to the public safety of those who use the streets of Philadelphia increased dramatically. Ordinances regulating traffic started to appear at least as early as 1916. In 1922 and 1925, ordinances were passed regulating the direction of trafffic on most Center City streets and placed enforcement of traffic regulations in the Bureau of Police.
On 24 June 1931, an Ordinance was approved placing traffic control in the office of the Director of Public Safety. The Director appointed a traffic engineer and a staff to support his operations. The office was constituted as a separate Bureau of Traffic Engineering within the Department of Public Safety in 1942, in accordance with the provisions of the appropriations ordinance detailing the Annual Budget passed by City Council and approved by the Mayor on 12 December 1941.
The Bureau was relocated within the Highways Division of the newly-created Department of Streets under the provisions of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter.

Archival Records
83-5.1 Annual Reports (1948)

83-5.2 Traffic Accident Facts (1939, 1947-1950)

83-5.3 Traffic Engineering Division. Vehicle Count Summary (1934)

83-5.4 Traffic Engineering Division. Traffic and Pedestrian Survey (1938)

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Last updated on November 8, 2000