The Philadelphia City Planning Commission wants the city to reduce the number of traffic lanes and change on-street parking on large portions of a South Philly thoroughfare, according to the latest update on the Philadelphia2035 plan.
The recommendations for the nearly 2.5-mile long stretch of Washington Avenue, east of the Schuylkill River, include changing portions of the exiting five traffic lanes – two running in each direction and a center turn lane -- to three, one for vehicles traveling each way while maintaining the center turn lane, according to Jeannette Brugger, the commission’s transportation planner.
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The changes would occur between 5th and 12th streets and 16th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue, she said.
“It is a chaotic area,” said Brugger, referencing the high number of cars parked in the center lane and the frequent practice of delivery trucks to unload from the middle of the street.
“We are working on an implementation plan that will make this restriping actually work because these stripes on the road are not the end of the story,” she said.
The plan also suggests overhauling the current on-street parking setup. Instead of parallel parking, drivers would back into angled spaces.
The current structure along Washington Avenue from 13th to 16th streets and from the Delaware River to 5th Street will remain the same to accommodate the heavy traffic on Broad Street and Christopher Columbus Boulevard, she added.
An exact number on total parking spaces is not yet known as property owners are in the midst of requesting loading zones, but drivers should not be disappointed.
“I can’t give you an exact number,” she said. “But it will increase the net.”
The redesign will also connect the patchy network of bike lanes along the busy corridor into one continuous track.
An exact start date for the restriping project, which should take one to two years to complete, is unknown. But crews could start working by this fall if financing and final approvals are secured, Brugger added.
“We don’t want to promise fall. It is kind of out of hands at this point because we are the planning arm,” she said. “And now it is in to the implementation arm.”
The recommendations, which were based on Washington Avenue Transportation & Parking Study results, still need final approval from City Council and the Streets Department.