If you’ve tried to cross Broad at Walnut on foot, bike or car lately, you’ve surely noticed the shifting maze of plastic barricades and orange cones. Jaywalkers have been taking their chances to get from point A to point B, while drivers have grown increasingly aggravated, honking their symphonic rage up and down the Avenue of the Arts.
Good news: the disruption is nearing its final stages — and what’s left behind should be both prettier and safer for all involved.
Workers will begin installing raised crosswalks at the Walnut Street intersection this week, according to Streets Dept. spokesperson Keisha McCarty-Skelton.
Also known as speed tables, the new crosswalks will be stamped with red asphalt, creating a look that mimics the colonial-style brick inlays that are regular features at Old City’s tourist attractions and historical parks. The slightly above-street-level height and the contrasting red color have been designed to force drivers to take note of pedestrians — and consequently decrease their speed.
Standard white pavement markings, which will be much more visible than the former grayscale asphalt markings that previously delineated walkways, will frame the new crosswalks.
The construction is part of a project to bring curbless intersections, other accessibility improvements and aesthetic upgrades to South Broad at Chestnut, Walnut, Sansom and Moravian.
By the week of May 21, Streets Dept. spokesperson, the first phase of the upgrades should be complete.
Final work, which will include raised crosswalks at Chestnut and Walnut, plus planters and LED street light improvements at all four points, should be completed by late June 2018.
The reimagining of Avenue of the Arts street infrastructure has been in the works since 2014, when money from the PennDOT-administered red light camera program known as ARLE was designated for safety improvements there. The project was further developed in conjunction with a slew of different city organizations, utility companies and agencies, such as Streets, the OTiS, Philadelphia Water and SEPTA (among others).
Philly-based Urban Engineers was put to the task of coming up a design that could work in 2015, and in Feb. 2016 submitted the plan currently being implemented.
In addition to textured and elevated crosswalks, the upgrades effectively render the intersections “curbless,” making it much easier and safer for persons with disabilities to cross. Upgrades also include overall drainage improvements.
In June 2017, local construction company Ramos & Associates was awarded the contract to implement the new design.
Per a recent Streets Dept. press release, the entire resurfacing initiative has been 100 percent paid for by the ARLE.