Ideas presented to improve Roosevelt Boulevard

Sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA and PennDOT, Route for Change is an organization aiming to make the Boulevard more safe, accessible and reliable.

Street talk: Last week, Route for Change held a presentation at the Mayfair Community Center to continue outreach and receive feedback. It presented preliminary ideas with the goal to be implemented by 2025. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Route for Change is an organization that is hoping to make improvements to Roosevelt Boulevard. Its main goals are to make the route safe, accessible, reliable and transformative.

Sponsored by the city of Philadelphia, SEPTA and PennDOT, the group is reaching out to community members to present ideas and receive feedback.

Last week, the group held a presentation at the Mayfair Community Center to continue outreach and receive feedback. It presented preliminary ideas with the goal to be implemented by 2025.

Ideas included a second boulevard-specific direct bus, improvements at key intersections and an improved biking network.

From 2012 to 2016, Roosevelt Boulevard accounted for 7 percent of all vehicle crashes in the city of Philadelphia. It also was responsible for 13 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the city.

There were 60 traffic-related deaths on the boulevard — a figure that averages out to one death a month. There were also 91 injuries in the same time frame.

In the city of Philadelphia, there were approximately 10,000 crashes from 2012 to 2016. Four children are reported to be involved in traffic crashes on a daily basis.

“The boulevard is almost like a blank canvas,” said presenter Angela Dixon. “It’s very wide — we’ve got 12 lanes. There is enough room for all traffic modes to exist, but we have to start thinking about a way to change the way the boulevard functions.”

About 70 percent of residents who talked to Route for Change said their opinion of the boulevard was negative, citing safety as their biggest concern. Other concerns include traffic congestion, timely transit service and inadequate pedestrian and transit amenities.

Recently, SEPTA unveiled Direct Bus, which offers transportation on the boulevard from Frankford Transportation Center to Neshaminy Mall.

Route for Change is hoping to introduce a second direct bus that would offer transportation to the southern end of the boulevard.

Another issue they are hoping to tackle is the difficulty of making left turns onto side streets. Drivers have to look for fleeting gaps in two lanes of traffic to make left turns on some major streets, such as Harbison Street, Grant Avenue and Red Lion Road. The presentation included a video simulation of two possible routes of action the group is getting feedback on.

The first idea, known as split phasing, would split up left-turning vehicles into queues depending on where they are turning. Pros for this idea include relatively low costs to change signal timing, and it would eliminate conflicting movements for side-street left turns. However, it would drastically slow down pedestrians, as it would take a projected 6.2 minutes for a pedestrian to cross all lanes from the time the first walking signal starts.

Another option is to offset left turns, which would consist of shifting left turns further to the left by installing new medians. This change would eliminate conflict between side-street left turns and shorten pedestrian crossing, but it would be costly to install new medians, signage and driver education. It would require drivers to enter a lane that has opposite-moving traffic on either side of them, which could confuse or scare drivers.

Neither idea is final and Route for Change is still considering its options.

Route for Change will host several public meetings to get feedback from residents, including reaching out to civic associations and hosting public meetings such as this one. Visit RooseveltBlvd.com to stay updated. ••