Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Wants to Blow Away Trash in Litter-Heavy Neighborhoods

Millions set aside to use street sweepers and air blowers to get trash off streets in high-litter neighborhoods

What to Know

  • Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has unveiled his plan to battle trash on city streets.
  • Mayor budgeted millions for city workers to use street sweepers and air blowers to get trash off streets in high-litter neighborhoods.
  • Cars wouldn't need to be moved to get to the trash but officials are encouraging neighbors to move vehicles so the curb can be cleaned.

Philadelphia’s mayor wants to blow away trash piling up along some neighborhood streets.

Mayor Jim Kenney joined other city officials Tuesday to launch the Mechanical Street Sweeping Pilot Program, which will target six specific neighborhoods.

The city will use street sweepers and backpack blowers — similar to those used by landscapers to blow leaves — to clean streets and collect the mess.

"Watching our city get dumped on day after day seriously burns me up,” said Kenney said in a statement.

Kenney has set aside millions for the project. The mayor’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget calls for $2.3 million to go to the street cleaning action plan this year and $11.7 million over five years, Kenney’s office said.

"Cleaner blocks mean safer blocks," Kenney said. 

Kenney and city officials say the mechanical street cleaning, done by seven-person teams, is focusing its efforts on vulnerable neighborhoods that also deal with illegal dumping. 

The neighborhoods are:

  • West Philadelphia: Parkside Ave. to Lancaster Ave., from 52nd St. to Girard Ave.
  • Southwest: Woodland Ave. to Kingsessing Ave., from 49th St. to Cemetery Ave.
  • Kensington: 2nd St. to Frankford Ave., from Tioga St. to Lehigh Ave.
  • Strawberry Mansion: Sedgley St. to Lehigh Ave., from 29th St. to 33rd St.
  • Logan: Godfrey Ave. to Roosevelt Blvd., from Broad. St to 5th St.
  • South Philadelphia: McKean St. to Oregon Ave., from 4th St. to 8th St. 

The City is using its Litter Index to target certain areas by choosing neighborhoods with a collective score of 2.0 or higher. 

The pilot program begins Tuesday and will coincide with normal trash collection days through December, city officials said. Cars won't need to be moved from streets as the blowers can push debris from under vehicles but city officials urged people to move cars so that the curbline could also be cleaned.

Not everybody is happy with the plan to blow trash around. Philadelphia urbanist political action group 5th Square posted its opposition in a Facebook post, questioning the effect of the blowers on air quality.

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