East Falls gateway project takes shape on Midvale Ave.

Construction is moving along at the East Falls pedestrian island at Midvale Avenue and Kelly Drive. 

Last week, a 14 foot granite monolith was installed at the intersection to welcome residents to the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood.  It’s all part of the $1.1 million “East Falls Reconnects to the River” initiative, which is a community-based project to improve the East Falls Riverfront Business District. 

Spanning more than 100 feet, the island serves as a gateway to the neighborhood and occupies a stretch of Midvale Avenue, separating two lanes of traffic. The work began in November of 2011 and is scheduled to be complete by October of this year. 

Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corporation (EFDC), says she’s thrilled that the pedestrian island project is in its final stages, with landscaping next on the agenda.

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“The sign was installed over the course of last Thursday and Friday,” said Snyder. “It’s a beautiful architectural sign that announces the neighborhood. It’s inspired by our logo, which references the Falls Bridge.”

Snyder said the landscapers need to wait a few weeks for planting season before completing the project. She added that the EFDC is also waiting for the pedestrian-scale street lights to arrive. 

The improvement project, which also includes street lighting and curb cuts in the surrounding area, was funded by federal dollars through PennDOT, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and by city dollars through the Philadelphia Streets and Commerce departments. 

Snyder says the project has been a long time coming. The need for the improvements was expressed in a 2004 EFDC plan which states: “The lack of a gateway at Midvale Avenue makes the entrance to East Falls not only dangerous, but unattractive.”

“In that plan, we called for a pedestrian island and a gateway sign,” said Snyder. “It took years. There’s a long story behind it, but ultimately, we got this done.”

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