As an outgrowth of the $5M Route for Change study that the City prepared with a federal RAISE planning grant during Mayor Kenney’s first term (read the 2021 final report here), U.S. Senator Bob Casey successfully advocated for a major grant from the U.S. DOT to implement half of the short term improvements recommended in the report. Senator Casey helped the City win a USDOT MEGA grant in early January, which is 55% ($78Million) of the full cost the near term plan ($142Million).
The grant will fund traffic safety countermeasures in over 45 locations along the Boulevard which include: traffic signal upgrades and modernization, intersection reconfigurations, new median barriers and pedestrian refuge islands, accessibility improvements, and other pedestrian enhancements. Bicycle improvements are expected in the long term plan that will not be implemented for another 10-15 years. These capital improvements will complement the successful speed enforcement cameras that have been in place since 2020.
Over the last six years, 12 percent of all fatal crashes in Philadelphia have happened on Roosevelt Boulevard and over 40% of those killed were people walking across the twelve lanes of traffic.
Senator Casey and Mayor Kenney held a press conference in Hunting Park yesterday to make the announcement. Invited to speak was our own local hero, Latanya Byrd, one of the co-founders of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia. Latanya, who lost her niece and three grand nephews in 2013 to a horrible crash caused by a driver who was drag racing on Roosevelt Boulevard, spoke eloquently about how meaningful and important this grant is to her family.
Latanya told the audience, “[M]y (surviving) nephew doesn’t talk at all about what happened. However, I have been speaking for him and my family, advocating for safer streets. There is nothing I can do to bring them back, but there is something I can do to make sure they did not die in vain. I have been advocating for change and I’m so excited that change is happening. This grant will give us much needed safety features that we need on Roosevelt boulevard to protect the residents. This is another step towards our goal and today my family is grateful.”
To further the conversation about ending fatal traffic crashes, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will host the 2023 Vision Zero Conference “Creating an Equitable Future with Zero Traffic Fatalities” on March 31 at Temple University. More information about the event and how to attend can be found on our website.