North Philly intersection reimagined as shady, green gathering space in new plan

A rendering of a redesign proposed for the intersection of Broad, Erie and Germantown in North Philadelphia shows a lawn, trees and seating. (Provided by the City of Philadelphia)

A rendering of a redesign proposed for the intersection of Broad, Erie and Germantown in North Philadelphia shows a lawn, trees and seating. (Provided by the City of Philadelphia)

Trees and lush planters, a lawn and a very short wall designed for sitting are among the amenities proposed for a long-neglected intersection in the heart of North Philadelphia.

Philadelphia officials released the proposed designs for the intersection of Broad, Germantown and Erie on Friday after years of working with neighborhood leaders to reshape the busy North triangle.

The design used input from more than 750 community stakeholders, and all decisions in the design process were made jointly with the Broad, Germantown and Erie Task Force, city officials said. The city and task force are now seeking final comments on the design.

“Overhauling the intersection at Broad, Germantown and Erie is a top priority for our administration,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “It is key to revitalizing this section of North Broad Street and the surrounding neighborhoods.“

The proposed design has several different kinds of seating and string lights as well as a kiosk designed for sharing books. Trees and shade structures will provide protection from the sun in a neighborhood notoriously short on both. Squat, black traffic bollards intend to protect the park-like public space from traffic.

The proposed redesign includes traffic bollards and a bike lane, among other traffic safety features. (City of Philadelphia).

The Broad, Germantown and Erie Task Force began its work in 2017. It is a collaboration between city agencies and neighborhood organizations, with a goal to make the intersection safer, create jobs, support businesses, improve public spaces, and honor local history and culture.

In collaboration with the community, the city developed a series of design options. The city and task force then sought input from residents, workers and transit riders in the neighborhood.

They collected feedback through an online survey and socially distanced in-person interviews at the intersection. Participants also offered input via phone calls and text messages. The survey was offered in both English and Spanish in a nod to the diversity of the area.

“We want people who use the intersection to feel ownership over the design and the future of the space,” said Eleanor Sharpe, executive director of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. “The proposal reflects their input and addresses their priorities.”

The work at the intersection also includes major improvements to the roads, sidewalks, crosswalks, and bus stops. This will improve safety for pedestrians, transit riders and drivers.

“This is a busy intersection with a lot of users,” said Mike Carroll, Deputy Managing Director for the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability. “The improvements proposed will make it safer to cross the streets and easier to ride public transit. They also should reduce the number of car crashes we see.”

The design is available online. Comments or questions may be submitted to bge@phila.gov and via phone call or text message at (215) 436-9886. Community groups may email or call to request a presentation at a virtual community meeting.

The deadline to submit comments is February 14, 2021.

After final input from the community, the city will begin the final design of the improvements in the spring.

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