Chestnut Hill could get pedestrian crossing countdown lights

Six intersections along Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill could see repainted crosswalk lines and new pedestrian signals with countdown indicators. The improvements are being considered for Evergreen, Highland, Southampton and Willow Grove Avenues, Gravers Lane and Winston Road.

The news emerged at last night’s Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Traffic, Transportation and Parking Committee (TTP) meeting, which is actively soliciting feedback from the public and the other association committees as it develops a scope of work for pedestrian improvements along Germantown Avenue.

Committee member and traffic engineer Debra Ferraro said TTP says the intersection improvements are a few of things she’s identified as priorities. Ferraro noted that these new pedestrian signals are being implemented city-wide and are “safer because it gives a definite countdown of how much more time you have to cross.”

One of the more costly undertakings would be to realign the crosswalk at the northeast corner of the intersection at Highland and Germantown Avenues. “We’re not sure if the cost-benefit analysis works out, ” said Ferraro, who stated that that the project would be expensive and involve the relocation of utility poles, city inlets and wheelchair ramps. Another suggested improvement for this intersection is the installation of a bump-out on Germantown Avenue, which is an extension of the curb right at the corner. “It gives the pedestrian a safety refuge,” Ferraro said. She told committee members that the result would be a shortened crosswalk which is proven to increase pedestrian safety.

A redesign of Winston Road would narrow the roadway to improve pedestrian safety and create an enhanced streetscape with a plaza space for market festivals, street trees and wheelchair ramps. Adding green storm water infrastructure could also be part of the redesign.

Ferraro said TTP would also look to apply signal timing and phasing changes at the intersection of Southampton and Germantown Avenues to protect the northern crosswalk especially during school dismissal hours. At the intersection of Willow Grove and Germantown Avenues, TTP would like to replace the damaged curbing and install wheelchair ramps.

TTP is also looking to develop a long term plan for replacement of sidewalks. “Sidewalks along the corridor are aging,” Ferraro remarked. .

Ferraro noted that funding for these projects would come through securing grants monies available through Red Light Running grants and the city’s Capital Fund.

Other Business

TTP members heard from Parking Authority board member, Mark Keintz and other neighbors concerning traffic and parking issues on Anderson Street at the intersection of East Highland Avenue.

Keintz, who is also on the board of the CHCA, said spill-over parking from drivers who park on Anderson Street so as to avoid paying parking fees presents a “true safety issue.” Citing impaired visibility, neighbors expressed a desire to have signage which will prevent people from parking their cars too close to the corner and too close to either side of the two alley streets which intersect Anderson Street.

“I think that would be appropriate,” commented Ferraro, who recommended that an application be submitted through the city’s Streets Department.

Neighbors would also like to see a four-way stop sign, rather than the two-way stop sign currently in place. Keintz commented that drivers don’t expect the current stop sign to be only two-way, because nearby intersections have the four-way stop signs. Ferraro explained that the intersection would not typically qualify for a change since a four-way sign is placed on intersections where traffic from the minor approach is equal to that of the main approach. However, she said the change could still happen if there were enough complaints and if sight distance is indeed compromised.

TTP Committee Chair Tom Hemphill said the committee will contact the city for an assessment of the intersection.

Neighbors on Evergreen Avenue are also in the process of applying for a change in parking limits from 2 hour to one hour. The legislation is to be presented before City Council by 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass once Council returns from break.

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