DeLissio provides update on Henry Avenue Safety Improvement Plan

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 14 – State Rep. Pam DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., offered the following update today on safety improvements planned for Henry Avenue, noting that construction on the first segment of the plan is anticipated to start in the spring of 2021.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Improvement Project for Henry Avenue was initiated in 2012 and is a safety study paid for with federal funds.

The study included community involvement, and the outcome of the study recommends traffic calming measures to influence and encourage a decrease in speed. The study was in two segments; SIP runs from Port Royal Avenue to the Wissahickon Creek Bridge and SI2 is from the bridge to Abbottsford Avenue.

PennDOT met with civic associations in 2012 and 2013 to get input from the community and held a public meeting in September 2014. The input from residents was incorporated into the safety improvement design.

“Input from citizens has been a crucial part of this process. I hosted three additional meetings to give the community further opportunity for review and input,” DeLissio said. “At both the Oct. 8, 2015, and Feb. 11, 2016, meetings, PennDOT staff, the city Streets Department, local and state law enforcement, and the councilman’s office were in attendance. Additional input was received from citizens, and PennDOT included much of that input into the planned improvements.”

On April 20, 2017, PennDOT hosted another public meeting in the East Falls neighborhood to get the community’s consensus on the improvements proposed for SI2. At DeLissio’s 64th Town Hall meeting on May 17, 2017, PennDOT again presented an overview of the improvements planned, and the additional input offered by residents was much appreciated, she said.

Calming measures and changes such as selective tree trimming, guiderail replacement, roadway resurfacing, traffic signals (additions and/or timing), curb and sidewalk bump outs, signage and pavement marking enhancements as well as additional, high-friction surfacing, roadway deflections and more are all part of the planned improvements.

PennDOT officials said that they anticipate a reduction of crashes due to these planned changes.

The preliminary engineering for implementation of these measures was forecasted to be completed by 2017 for SIP, with construction completed by the end of fall 2020. Preliminary engineering for SI2, was forecasted to be completed by 2018 with construction finished by fall 2021.

The current bid schedule is as follows: SIP is the fall of 2020 with construction commencing in the spring of 2021. SI2 is the winter of 2020-21 with construction commencing late spring/early summer of 2021. One reason for the delay was the need to secure additional funding for added enhancements to the project because of community input. The pandemic has also created challenges.

“PennDOT has been very responsive to the concerns and requests of the community, acknowledging that it is the travelers who know these surfaces, bends and blind spots best,” DeLissio said. “Balancing pedestrian, vehicular and bicycle safety is of interest to all parties, and it is awesome to see the power of citizens’ work to improve the conditions around us; a total of 11 community meetings have been held on this topic, and I am grateful to the constituents who have taken the time to participate.

“In the interim, I ask drivers to slow down, respect traffic lights and speed limits, and to drive responsibly and adhere to our traffic laws. The neighbors who live along Henry Avenue are beyond frustrated with the crashes and irresponsible driving behavior, and local and state law enforcement are limited in the role that they can play in enforcing speed.”