48th Street Greenway Proposes Redesign; Awaits Response from Streets Department
We have been hearing from from many neighbors asking where things stand with the 48th Street Greenway initiative, so we put together this quick post to provide a general update. The short story is that the street has been milled, and we are waiting to hear from the Streets Department if they will consider our proposal for making 48th Street safer, greener, and better connected when they pave and stripe it.
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Residents of 48th Street have long lamented the reckless driving and crashes that take place on it. When PGW dug up 48th Street for a major project in in the winter of 2022, neighbors from Cedar Park, Garden Court, and Walnut Hill came together, recognizing that a paving project would likely happen before long and that that would be the time to make changes to how the street is designed and operates. We organized through block captains and block-level networks, and in the Spring of 2022, over 500 people signed a petition for a safer, greener, and better connected 48th Street. Thank you all!
We shared that petition with our councilperson and city staff in September. When, on May 1st, the Streets Department unexpectedly announced milling and paving between Kingsessing and Haverford Avenues for the following week, our public officials received over 100 urgent calls and emails in a matter of days, asking that the work be delayed until a plan for the street could be developed to meet the Greenway objectives. While the milling proceeded unabated, our councilperson convened a meeting with the Streets Department for May 11th, and asked that we tell them "what we want." While we may have preferred to develop proposal specifics through a more collaborative planning process with public officials and community, our group of block captains and other leaders felt we had little choice to but to put something together for the City to consider, or the paving and striping would simply proceed as planned. In short, we asked for three things, which we felt are both practical and impactful:
1. Bumpouts throughout the corridor to allow stop signs to be located with better visibility, shorten pedestrian crossing distances, and provide space for bus passengers.
2. New stop signs at uncontrolled intersections like Windsor Avenue and Sansom Street, and consideration of replacing traffic signals with stop signs at low-volume intersections like Kingsessing Avenue and Locust Street.
3. Bike lanes separated from vehicular traffic from Kingsessing to Haverford to create a safe corridor connecting the Walnut-Chestnut bike lanes and Lea Elementary to Baltimore Avenue, Kingsessing Rec Center, and ultimately beyond.
Slides from our presentation are provided at the bottom of this post for clarification. We think the great thing about our proposal is that because of 48th Street's extra width, it can be accomplished using the dimensions of familiar streets like 47th Street as a template and without reducing travel lanes or legal parking spaces. The dimensions can be established using striping that can be supplemented with low-cost vertical elements or future capital investment, and we have begun engaging partners like University City District, who could help with that.
We made that proposal at meeting held on May 11th and are very grateful to everybody who agreed to do so on such short notice for an ongoing paving project. The Streets Department said that they would consider our proposal and put together plan for striping to propose to the councilperson by the end of the month, and that we could expect paving to occur in June, and striping likely in July. As of this post, we have not heard from the Streets Department or Councilperson's office, but are eagerly and optimistically awaiting their proposal. If necessary before implementation, we have volunteers ready to supplement community outreach by city staff and go door-to-door to take a community poll on the proposal the Streets Department develops.