FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, February 6, 2022
Yesterday, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) released its update on the Washington Avenue Repaving and Improvement Project which backtracked from their September 2020 “Final Design Decision.” The City’s new plan eliminates the safest roadway layout, the 3-lane layout, from consideration in its design.
Dena Driscoll, South Philly resident, Coppin Parent, and 5th Square co-chair says, “This is a loss for everyone who uses Washington Avenue. By canceling the original design, the Kenney administration and OTIS are betraying their Vision Zero pledge which promises to achieve zero roadway deaths in Philadelphia by 2030. We have lost faith in the public process and can no longer trust this administration to uphold its own stated principles.”
“In rejecting the City’s original design, Councilmembers Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla have truly shown a lack of leadership. They have betrayed the voice of thousands of residents and neighbors who participated in the process and vetoed the work of professional traffic engineers. This will result in a more dangerous roadway, especially for its most vulnerable users.”
Cameron Adamez, South Philly resident and 5th Square organizer says, “Since the City’s Vision Zero pledge, roadway fatalities have only gone up. The choice to water down roadway safety measures like this means we will never achieve this goal. This is a social justice issue, because older adults, people of color, and people walking in low-income communities are disproportionately represented in fatal crashes. Not everyone can afford to travel by car, and it is these folks who will suffer the most.”
“Our elected officials are turning a blind eye to pedestrian deaths on Washington Avenue. The 11-year-old girl killed while walking on the sidewalk, the 8-year-old who saw the death of his 29-year-old mother, and the 83-year-old woman killed while trying to cross the street.”
Jesse Bacon, E.M. Stanton School parent says, “A compromised plan will endanger the children who attend my daughter’s elementary school. Our school catchment is divided by Washington Avenue, and the remaining layout options will increase our schoolchildrens’ exposure to traffic over the original plan when they walk to school.”
Aaron Bauman, South Philly resident and Kirkbride School parent says, “It has been a decade. We have engaged through every means imaginable—we have filled out multiple surveys with thousands of other residents and roadway users and we have explicitly said that we want a safer Washington Avenue. The original 3-lane layout had widespread popular support and our elected officials are simply ignoring this.”
“OTIS’ original survey engaged over 5,400 members of our community who voted overwhelmingly in favor of the original plan. The community-led survey produced by the working group also showed an overwhelming desire for safety measures. With nearly 800 paper responses, over 95% supported change and cited safety as a primary concern.”
Dena Driscoll adds, “The Mayor and Councilmembers Johnson and Squilla have utterly failed us. The residents of Philadelphia deserve safe streets. We will remember this failure in the next election cycle, and the thousands who want a safer Washington Avenue will remember too.”
5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee. We're an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and more and better public spaces.
5th Square volunteers can be reached at [email protected]