Tyson Avenue runs almost 3 1/2 miles through the heart of several Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoods including Burholme, Castor Gardens, Mayfair and Tacony. Last week, an official with the city’s Department of Streets announced that the thoroughfare is about to get a major facelift.
The Tyson Avenue Traffic Signal and Resurfacing Project is scheduled to start in May, according to Chief Design Engineer Vadim L. Fleysh, who detailed the project during the bimonthly meeting of the Mayfair Civic Association on March 21. Work is tentatively scheduled to continue for the ensuing 18 months. It is projected to cost $6 million, 80 percent of which will be funded by the federal government. The city will pay the remaining 20 percent.
The project will span from Rising Sun Avenue eastbound past Oxford, Castor and Bustleton avenues; Roosevelt Boulevard; and Frankford Avenue before culminating at Torresdale Avenue. Major changes will include the reduction of vehicle lanes from two in each direction to one, the addition of a center turning lane, the addition of bicycle lanes along the shoulders and the installation of new coordinated traffic signals throughout the route.
The street will be milled and repaved in sections, but neighbors and motorists shouldn’t expect long-term detours because of that component of the project. It should only take a matter of weeks to do the repaving, depending on how many crews are working at once, Fleysh said. However, the most time-consuming component of the work will be the installation of new wheelchair accessible sidewalk ramps at each corner along the route. As work proceeds on those, the public should expect localized construction zones and sidewalk restrictions.
Fleysh said that although most of Tyson will be reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction (in addition to the center turning lane), the four-lane configuration will be maintained in the area of Roosevelt Boulevard. That is, as motorists approach the Boulevard in either direction, there will be two lanes. The left lane in each direction will become a dedicated turning lane at the intersection, while the right lane will accommodate those turning right and those proceeding straight.
At the Mayfair meeting, one resident questioned the design engineer about the possibility that reducing lanes of traffic on Tyson would result in longer traffic delays. But Fleysh declared that traffic studies have shown that there will be no meaningful change in travel times. The center left turn lane should help reduce delays for through traffic.
In other meeting business:
• Members voted unanimously to oppose a zoning proposal by a duplex owner who is seeking to open an office for his home care business in the ground floor of the building.
The property at 3301 Longshore Ave. is zoned for residential use. One family is renting the first floor and another is renting the second floor. The landlord has applied for a zoning variance to convert the walk-in basement into his business office. Members of the civic association said they don’t think a commercial business belongs in a house and wouldn’t be in keeping with the residential character of neighboring properties. They also opposed the owner’s proposal to erect a commercial sign on the house.
Some neighbors recommended that if the owner wants to open an office in the neighborhood, he should try to rent a vacant commercial property on Frankford Avenue.
• MCA President Donny Smith reported that the group’s American Flag Project is about halfway funded. Treasurer Jim Ortlieb is leading the effort to install American flags on utility poles along Rowland Avenue from Frankford Avenue to Solly Avenue. About $600 has been raised so far. The civic group plans to use that money to buy and install some flags near Lincoln High School leading up to the annual Mayfair May Fair on May 21.
To donate to the cause, visit the “Mayfair American Pride” page on gofundme.com.
• Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Mayfair CDC, reported that the organization is about to complete its second home rehab project at 3318 Bleigh Ave. The CDC hopes to list the property for sale in late spring or early summer. The CDC is looking to rehab other vacant homes, including one on the 3200 block of Ryan Ave.
Also, the CDC and Mayfair Business Association will start their annual farmer’s market series in June. The market will be open each first and third Thursday of the month until October at Cottman and Frankford avenues. The first Thursday markets will coincide with the monthly First Thursday street festivals at the same location.
• City Councilman Bobby Henon advised residents on several public safety issues. In response to complaints about loitering by patrons of The Healing Way methadone clinic at 7900 Frankford Ave., Henon said that local businesses and property owners should report any disturbances to police.
When a firefighter told of a recent false alarm and theft of cash from the Engine 36 and Ladder 20 station at Frankford and Hartel, Henon said that he will look into getting security cameras installed there.
Henon also recommended that neighbors report the locations of unsightly clothes donation receptacles. Council recently passed an ordinance banning the receptacles. Since then, his office has been working with the Department of Licenses and Inspection to have them removed. ••