Running along the Wissahickon Creek before heading into the Northwest neighborhood of Mount Airy, Lincoln Drive is one of Philadelphia’s most picturesque roads.
It’s also among the most dangerous.
Four lanes of speedy traffic wind along the route’s sinuous curves, while accommodations for pedestrians are spare. Architectural and engineering changes need to be made.
In early June, the Philadelphia Streets Department held a public meeting to preview their plan of action. The project is scheduled to begin in 2017, but not until work is completed on the nearby Walnut Lane Bridge restoration. Lincoln Drive construction will be conducted primarily overnight on weekdays (9 PM to 6 AM) to repave and make improvements to Lincoln Drive that should increase street safety for all users.
For pedestrians, two new sidewalks will improve access to Wissahickon Valley Park. One will fill in a gap along the south side of Wissahickon Avenue from Lincoln Drive to Rittenhouse Street (pictured above).
The other will stretch along Lincoln Drive from Johnson Street to Wissahickon Avenue. These new sidewalks will incorporate intersection improvements including: bumpouts, new pedestrian signals, and traffic signal improvements at multiple locations along Lincoln Drive.
The multi-use Lincoln Drive trail will receive water mitigation interventions along the trail and a decorative cement coating on the existing, rather utilitarian, retaining wall.
Motorists will benefit from changes to Lincoln Drive that both encourage slower speeds and also reduce potential environmental hazards. Lane widths on the road will be reduced to 10 feet, and lane markings will be 6 inches wide, instead of the current 4-inch width. Narrower lanes encourage drivers to use more caution, and 10-foot lanes have been shown to effectively reduce traffic speeds.
While the entire road will be repaved, at key locations the Streets Department will utilize a high friction surface to help cars better manage wet conditions. In addition, a variety of water mitigation strategies are planned to divert water from the roadway.
In addition to these traffic-calming improvements, the Streets Department will reconfigure traffic flow at the Lincoln Drive/Wayne Avenue/Cliveden Street triangle. Southbound Lincoln Drive traffic will have a dedicated left turn lane onto Cliveden Street, reducing backups at Lincoln and Wayne where currently, traffic turning left onto Wayne from the inner travel lane slows through traffic.
The construction is anticipated to last a year, to be completed in early 2018. Some work will require single lane closures, but no full closures are anticipated. These improvements should reduce traffic speeds closer to the designed-for target of 25 mph, while enhancing the pedestrian experience with more spaces to walk and better signalization.