HomeNewsBoulevard subway expansion key to city's future

Boulevard subway expansion key to city’s future

City Councilman Mike Driscoll

By Councilman Mike Driscoll

The City of Philadelphia finds itself in a unique position heading into the new year. New city leadership is ready to take center stage, and we’re preparing to host many major exciting events in 2026, such as the 250th celebration of our independence, MLB All-Star Game and FIFA World Cup 2026.

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The world will be watching, and we can showcase Philadelphia as a world-class competitor. Let’s seize the moment and take transformative measures that will be game changers for our city, starting with an opportunity that was first identified as a priority more than a century ago.

It’s time to build the Roosevelt Boulevard subway.

A 12-mile, 12-stop Roosevelt Boulevard subway line would link Broad Street to Neshaminy Road and would drive economic growth, better connect our region and reduce motor-vehicle traffic on one of the most congested and dangerous roadways in America.

I am a lifelong resident of the Northeast, having previously represented parts of it in the PA House of Representatives and now in City Council. Those who live in a Boulevard-adjacent neighborhood will tell you that it looms quite large over the life of their community.  

As of September, the Philadelphia Police Department recorded more than 1,400 crashes on the Boulevard. That works out to one accident every four and a half hours. Ten of those accidents have claimed the life of at least one person. 

When accidents occur on the Boulevard, traffic grinds to a stop. Motorists, most of whom are driving with GPS, often pour into rowhome neighborhoods, causing traffic delays for Northeast residents heading from one neighborhood location to another.

The establishment of a Roosevelt Boulevard subway would allow many of the more than 150,000 motorists who drive the Boulevard on a regular basis the option of hopping on a rail line to access other parts of our city and region. 

A Boulevard subway would also alleviate traffic and congestion on another of our region’s most heavily traveled roadways, I-95. More than 20 years ago – the last time a Roosevelt Boulevard subway was studied – it was estimated that it would divert about 83,000 daily trips on I-95 from automobiles to transit. No doubt that number has risen in the intervening years.

Less frequently mentioned in the discussion around the proposed Boulevard subway is the disconnect felt by many of the 500,000 residents in the Northeast to the rest of Philadelphia. Except for bus routes, much of Northeast Philadelphia is a rail transportation desert.

We’ve heard from many residents, businesses and neighborhood leaders at recent public hearings about the benefits the Boulevard subway would have for them. The attractiveness of the concept is undeniable. What’s only required is the will to do it on the part of the city, region and SEPTA leadership. 

We believe federal dollars are available, but we must act now. We have federal and state leaders who are willing to support this effort and work with all required transportation agencies, departments and communities. 

As the councilmember representing much of the Northeast, I am ready to marshal city government in support of this ambitious project. 

The collapse of I-95 in the Tacony section of the city earlier this year highlights just how fragile our transportation infrastructure is. A Roosevelt Boulevard subway would be a robust component of that infrastructure with the ability to drive economic growth, better connect our city and reduce traffic on two of our most congested roadways.

A Roosevelt Boulevard subway would be transformative. ••

Councilman Mike Driscoll represents the 6th District.

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