Streets department says no to West Torresdale stop signs

Avalon Street often feels more like Daytona Avenue to folks who live along the tiny neighborhood byway in West Torresdale as cars and trucks zoom through the suburban-like blocks with seemingly reckless abandon, they say.

But the danger doesn’t rise to a level warranting certain traffic-calming measures like additional stop signs, according to the city’s Department of Streets. And the road’s dimensions aren’t suitable for the installation of speed humps.

West Torresdale Civic Association President Ken Laws reported those official conclusions to local residents during the civic group’s bi-monthly meeting on Jan. 12 at the 8th Police District.

Last year, neighbors asked for the civic association’s backing in their effort to get stop signs installed at Avalon and Lavender streets as well as Avalon and Outlook streets. The signs would help to slow down through traffic, they claim. Although Avalon Street is only four blocks long, it has become a popular shortcut for motorists commuting between Academy Road and Frankford Avenue. Instead of taking Morrell Avenue between the two primary roads, many motorists work their way through local streets including Avalon and Chesterfield roads. By doing so, they can avoid most of the commuter traffic and traffic lights.

Neighbors argue that, based on their own observations, excessive speed and traffic volume pose a hazard to families who live there. And the streets aren’t designed to handle it.

With the support of City Councilman Brian O’Neill’s office, the civic association compelled the Streets Department to investigate stop sign installation. Last week, Laws reported that traffic engineers determined that the average speed for cars on Avalon Street is 28 mph, just three mph more than the posted speed limit. Further, the researchers determined that the volume is insufficient to warrant stop signs.

As an alternate to stop signs, neighbors also asked that the city look into installing speed humps on Avalon.

The humps are also known as speed cushions or tables and feature a plateau-like shape that allows most vehicles to navigate them safely at up to 25 mph. The city has installed them on Southampton and Station roads in Somerton, Winchester Avenue in Winchester Park and Susquehanna Road in Fox Chase.

According to Laws, the city concluded that the dimensions of Avalon Street don’t meet national standards for speed humps. So even with the full support of neighbors, the Streets Department won’t install them.

The civic president reported that the 8th Police District has proposed to position a mobile speed recorder on Avalon. The device tracks the velocity of each passing vehicle and posts it on a digital sign. It also logs the speed of each vehicle for later analysis.

During the civic meeting, Laws asked Community Relations Officer Joe Hansbury if it would be possible to position patrol cars on Avalon, particularly during the evening rush hour. Hansbury said he would submit the request to the 8th district commanding officer as a roll call request, meaning that officers will be instructed at the start of each shift to monitor the location.

In other WTCA business:

Hansbury said that the 8th Police District Advisory Council seeks more community participation. The 8th PDAC’s monthly meetings are held on the first Wednesday each month at 7 p.m. at the 8th district, Red Lion and Academy roads. Also, the district’s commanding officer, Capt. Adam Friedman, hosts town hall meetings on the last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the same location.

The civic association will organize a community clean-up event to coincide with Earth Day on April 22 on Morrell Avenue near Crestmont Avenue along the Byberry Creek. Volunteers are needed to help out.

The civic association hopes to host a seminar for the city’s rain barrels program, which helps city homeowners manage stormwater and beautify their homes. A date has not been confirmed. Information about the program is available via phillywatersheds.org/raincheck

The next West Torresdale Civic meeting will be on March 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the 8th Police District. ••