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After getting feedback from more than 5,600 people regarding next year’s Washington Avenue project, the City of Philadelphia has chosen a layout for the corridor — the layout we thought, since the beginning, was the best option.

As the city noted in a press release sent out Monday, 71 percent of the people who responded to the city’s survey chose the 3-lane option for Washington Avenue.

Following extensive public outreach conducted earlier this year, the City announced today that it will reconfigure Washington Avenue from its current five-lane layout to a three-lane layout between 4th Street to Grays Ferry Avenue as part of a repaving project scheduled for 2021.

The City’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability (OTIS) asked residents, businesses and community organizations for input on three design options for Washington Avenue. The team used a combination of print and digital methods, including an online survey, paper mailer, online meetings, phone calls, and materials in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Vietnamese.

“OTIS received over 5,400 responses to the outreach efforts – an overwhelming response” said Deputy Managing Director Mike Carroll. “Seventy-one percent of online survey respondents preferred the three-lane design over the other two alternatives presented.”

All engagement results are available to view here.

A Spanish language version of today’s press release is available here.

Why did we support the “three lane” option when it was presented early on in the pandemic? Because, as we said at the time,

Consistency. Option A is consistently 3 lanes east of 12th St and West of 16th St. Having a single lane in each direction reduces the opportunities for motorists to speed as drivers can only legally travel as fast as the slowest driver in front of them.

Best for pedestrians: It greatly reduces the pedestrian crossing areas in the 3 lane segments and widens the sidewalk. This is particularly important in the vicinity of the Italian Market. Sidewalk widening also presents an opportunity to spruce up the streetscape of the corridor.

Best for bicycle commuters: Washington Avenue is a key east west corridor in the City. US Census Data shows that Washington Ave corridor between Broad and 6th St from Christian to Wharton has the highest percentage of bike commuters in Philadelphia with 19% of workers commuting by bicycle. Driving alone is the only mode of transport that is more popular than bicycling. Along with the protected bike lanes on South 11th St, a 3 lane option for Washington Avenue gives bike commuters the highest quality infrastructure possible.

We thank the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability for their leadership in the cause of creating the safest Washington Avenue possible. More than 5,600 people completed the survey for Washington Avenue, because the City made easy-to-watch, and easy-to-understand videos, explaining exactly what was going to be done, and why. The videos were accessible and made available to communities across South Philadelphia, and across the city.

Additionally, Washington Avenue has long been one of the corridors we’ve advocated for in our Hub and Spoke plan — specifically the southern “Hub” (with the north being the Spring Garden Greenway, for which there will soon be an update).

“Next steps for the project include developing final engineering plans and preparing the project to bid,” according to the City’s press release. “Construction is anticipated for summer 2021. OTIS will continue regular communications with City Council, neighbors, businesses, and organizations before, during, and after paving in 2021.”

A video explaining the layout decision, the three-lane option in detail, and next steps for the Washington Avenue’s Repaving & Improvement Project is available here.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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