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Henry Ave. bus shelter destroyed, again, after car crash

It wasn’t worth the wait.

On Saturday night, Jason McElroy was at Dalessandro’s to grab some take-out for himself and a guest from out of town.

The guest – unfamiliar with Philadelphia’s culinary nuances – ordered a chicken cheesesteak, forcing McElroy to wait inside the Roxborough steak shop for about 20 minutes as the requested menu item was specially prepared.

McElroy was seated at the end of the counter when he saw a flash of light from the street – accompanied by what he described as “a very loud noise” – and knew immediately that there had been an accident.

Collision details 

On Saturday night, a two-car collision at the intersection of Henry Ave. and Walnut Lane in Roxborough resulted in significant damage to a city-owned bus shelter.

Officer Tanya Little of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Office of Media Relations confirmed that on March 10 at approximately 8 p.m., a 2005 Chevy Impala traveling northbound on Henry Ave. was struck by a 2007 Mazda attempting a left turn onto Walnut Lane in Roxborough.

According to police and eyewitness reports, the Impala deflected off of the front of the Mazda after the initial collision and made contact with the bus shelter.

The Impala’s driver, complaining of pain to the left arm, was sent to Roxborough Memorial Hospital.

Police did not provide names of the drivers.

McElroy recalled the scene – and the response.

“The front [of the Mazda] was totally destroyed,” said McElroy, who was caught off guard by the reactions of the Dalessandro’s dinner crowd.

“The patrons ran out to help,” he said, adding that he was surprised by the immediacy of the response by his fellow diners.

Repeat incident

This is not the first time a bus shelter has sustained serious damage at this intersection.

Last year, a commercial garbage truck destroyed a bus shelter during morning rush hour. The structure was vacant at the time, and injuries to the truck’s passengers were minor, but traffic was heavily delayed.

Various accounts indicate that the shelter, which took several months to replace, was in operation for only a short time before last Saturday’s accident.

However, contrary to commonly-held sentiment, bus shelters are owned by the city – not by SEPTA.

“It’s city property,” explained Andrew Stober, chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, the agency tasked with overseeing transit shelters.

According to Stober, the city has a contract with Titan Outdoor Advertising to provide maintenance to the shelters.

In the event of a vehicular collision, Titan – also responsible for the advertising found on shelters – cleans debris, repairs or replaces the structure, and collects insurance from the responsible party, Stober said.

Stober related that insurance monies were collected from the driver in Saturday’s crash. He was unable to provide an estimated cost of the damage, but suggested that the shelter would be restored in about a month, pending repairs to the shelter’s concrete.

‘It’s dangerous to drive, and it’s dangerous to walk’

In recent weeks, the woes of Henry Ave. are legion.

In February, two people were killed in separate accidents along the Henry Ave. corridor, both of which are within a mile of Saturday’s collision.

Captain John Cerrone, Commanding Officer of the 5th Police District, was unavailable for comment on law enforcement responses to Henry Ave.’s ongoing vehicular maladies.

Ray Lucci, Chair of the East Falls Traffic Committee, has been paying close attention to accidents along this corridor, both in and out his jurisdiction. He questioned the wisdom of positioning a shelter so close to oncoming traffic.

“Our point all along,” said Lucci in regard to Henry Ave, “is that it’s dangerous to drive, and it’s dangerous to walk.”

And, given the high rate of incidents at this particular intersection, he noted that even standing is becoming hazardous.

“I wouldn’t wait there,” Lucci remarked.

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