Pedestrian safety at St. Joseph’s enhanced by PennDOT funding, Daley and Cephas announce

HARRISBURG, April 20 – Seeking increased safety for students, commuters and local residents on and near Saint Joseph’s University, state Reps. Mary Jo Daley and Morgan Cephas today announced $3 million in funding for the school via the Multimodal Transportation Fund.

Daley, D-Montgomery, also announced $1.1 million for traffic signal installation in Whitemarsh Township.

Issued through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Multimodal Transportation Funds allow targeted funding for priority investments.

At St. Joseph’s, that means the construction of a precast reinforced concrete arch that will provide width for a 21-foot-wide walking path running under City Avenue, helping facilitate safe pedestrian movement under City Avenue for students and community members.

“With both student and local population growth soaring, the number of pedestrians traversing SJU’s campus on a daily basis has risen accordingly,” Daley wrote to the Department of Community and Economic Development in September in support of funding for this project. “Due to the safety concerns associated with existing pedestrian travel, SJU has prioritized the construction of the proposed pedestrian underpass as a key initiative for the university.”

The current setup presents inherently hazardous traveling conditions and has been the cause of several pedestrian accidents, Daley wrote, noting students and community members from Lower Merion Township and the City of Philadelphia regularly traverse the SJU campus.

“Saint Joseph’s University is a fully integrated community campus serving as a thoroughfare for both students and the community at large, with many Philadelphia residents accessing City Avenue to get to their places of work and local businesses across the county line,” said Cephas, D-Phila., whose district, like Daley’s, encompasses parts of the university. “The campus also serves as a corridor for key public transportation hubs located nearby. I am proud to see this funding be used to bring this project to fruition. The safety of countless pedestrians relies on it.”

Said Joseph Kender, vice president of university relations at SJU: “On behalf of the university, I want to thank PennDOT, Senators Vincent Hughes and Amanda Cappelletti, and Representatives Daley and Cephas for their strong support of this project. In many ways, the pedestrian underpass is the keystone to our ongoing campus modernization plan, connecting the Lower Merion and Philadelphia sides of our campus. We need to find a safer and more efficient way for our students, faculty and staff to cross City Avenue, and this project wouldn’t be possible without PennDOT’s partnership.”

In Whitemarsh Township, the funding will be used for installation of a traffic signal at Flourtown Road and Colonial Drive with roadway widening for dedicated left turn lanes at Colonial and Wildflower drives, as well as construction of a portion of Cross County Trail and bike lanes along Flourtown Road.

“These improvements will provide a safer environment along the corridor for both motorists and pedestrians, which is paramount given that Colonial Drive provides access to the Colonial School District building, Colonial Elementary School and Plymouth Whitemarsh High School,” Daley wrote in an October letter of support to PennDOT. “The signal will improve the operation and safety of the intersection by allowing vehicles from Colonial Drive safe passage onto Flourtown Road, as well as possible refuge for westbound turning vehicles, which will reduce conflicts with through vehicles, thereby increasing capacity and improving safety.”

These projects are among 43 highway, bridge, rail, bike and pedestrian projects across 21 Pennsylvania counties totaling $45.9 million as announced late last week by Gov. Tom Wolf.

PennDOT evaluated the applications for funding and made selections based on criteria such as safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency, and operational sustainability.