Update from PennDOT & Streets’ Department

Kindly allow this correspondence to serve as an update from this morning’s meeting with PennDOT, the Streets’ Department, SEPTA, the Planning Commission, the Phila. Office of Transportation and out elected officials (Senator John Sabatina, as well as representatives from Senator Tina Tartaglione, Representative Kevin Boyle, and Councilman Bobby Henon), regarding Frankford Avenue. It was a direct, productive discussion that yielded a plan for action. Specifically, we narrowed the goals that we wished to achieve for Frankford Avenue, which included:

Slowing Traffic;
Pedestrian Safety;
Increased Parking;
Walkability (Crosswalk installation);
Traffic Reliability;
Impact on bus routes (especially Route 66);
Bicycle Lanes; and
Loading area locations.

Eugene Blaum and Francis J. Hanney of PennDOT confirmed that the Commonwealth is already commencing a safety improvement project for Frankford Avenue, from Cheltenham Avenue to Rhawn Street. This is only in the design stages, but, in terms of the BID, PennDOT will be looking at the intersection modifications at Harbison, Tyson, Cottman and Sheffield, respectively. At our request, PennDOT will begin a traffic study of the BID parameters in the Spring of 2018, in order to determine traffic volume and numbers. This study is critical as we move forward to the broader issues to be discussed below. PennDOT’s hope is to have the funding to perform the enhancements recommended in the aforementioned study in early 2019.

Mr. Hanney, Traffic Control Services Manager/ADA Coordinator from PennDOT was especially helpful and forthright in his comments as he grew up here and shares our vision to improve Frankford Avenue. He cautioned that the prospect of Road Diets and angled parking were not strong due to the need for a center turning lane, and the high volume of traffic along the Avenue. In addition, angled parking could cause the removal of existing parking spaces on one side of Frankford Avenue. However, Mr. Hanney stressed that the study discussed above would shed light safety modifications that we could do, such as installing safety crosswalks at less problematic intersections within the BID, which could also add a “greening” aspect as well. Off-street parking spaces could also be added. Once the PennDOT study is completed, it will lead to moving forward on a detailed plan, to be discussed more fully below.

As you may recall from my recent email detailing my conversation last week with Eugene Blaum of PennDOT, and Ryan Gallagher of DVRPC, a comprehensive work corridor study would better inform us on what can be done to alter/improve the Frankford Avenue thoroughfare. At Mr. Gallagher’s suggestion, I contacted Angela Dixon from the Office of Transportation Services of the City of Philadelphia so that she could request a public corridor study be conducted by DVRPC. Ms. Dixon joined us today and stated that the studies for the coming fiscal year have already be determined, so she will explore when we can be placed in their funding que. Ms. Dixon will also be exploring another funding option for us, in which the application period is the Spring of 2018. However, that source provides up to $100,000.00, and the applicant must supply 25%. It is important to note that the applicant must be a government entity, such as the Planning Commission, and the 25% can come from multiple sources, i.e., elected officials and the BID. Once I receive more details from Ms. Dixon, I will advise the Board so that we can take the necessary steps.

The group also discussed having designated bicycle lanes, which would be included in the aforementioned studies. Mr. Hanney of PennDOT stated that while it might be difficult to have bicycle lanes on Frankford Avenue, due to traffic congestion and the removal of parking spaces, the possibility exists to have the lanes on intersecting streets that could be connected to other bike routes.

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