Does the Gustine Lake Interchange need better signage?

As drivers transition into a relatively new traffic pattern at the Gustine Lake Interchange between East Falls and Manayunk, a local neighborhood official is working to clear up some traffic confusion.

The new ramp that takes motorists from the City Avenue Bridge and I-76 to Ridge Avenue prohibits drivers from taking a right turn at the light toward East Falls. Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corporation, says it’s a traffic pattern that needs better signage. 

Manny Anastasiadis, PennDOT’s assistant director of traffic, said the restriction is due to the angle that the ramp projects out toward Ridge.

“The design of the corner at that location is very sharp,” he said. “For someone to turn there it has to be widened.”

However, when construction to the bridge over Kelly Drive shut down access to the South Ridge Avenue ramp—which is only about 35 yards from the North ramp—traffic was temporarily allowed to turn right onto Ridge Avenue.

After the South Ridge ramp was reopened, the original traffic flow was restored and drivers were prohibited from turning right.

Reviewing the signage 

Soon after, Snyder said a man came to her office with a $125 ticket for turning right onto Ridge Avenue from that ramp.

“I thought, ‘I know exactly why you got this ticket. This was exactly what I was worried about,'” she said.

Snyder said she believed the lack of signage – which instructed drivers that they can only turn left – in addition to confusion due to recent construction, made the ticket unfair. To help solve the problem, Snyder wrote to Rep. Pam DeLissio of the 194th District for help.

“The ticket was pretty stiff,” said DeLissio. “So I asked [PennDOT] to review the signage at that intersection.”

Sure enough, PennDOT agreed that the signage was not clear enough and installed better indicators—such as green and yellow luminescent arrows pointing left in place of a green and yellow lights.

PennDOT also changed the signs leading to the two exits to North and South Ridge Avenue, rather than West and East Ridge Avenue—which is the actual direction the street runs.

The man, an East Falls resident who Snyder said has lived his entire life in the neighborhood, took the ticket to court and had his fees waived.

Neighborhood markers 

But to Snyder, the fight isn’t over. She said the intersection needs clearer, larger markers indicating the direction of nearby communities—mainly Roxborough, Manayunk and East Falls.

“From my perspective, it’s more frustrating for someone who does the work I do,” she said. “I think it’s going to create confusion for people who aren’t from here.”

Due to the intersection’s intricacies, Snyder added that it’s especially difficult to navigate in your mind.

“If they locked me in a room and told me I couldn’t come out until I could draw that intersection, I’d still be there.”

Snyder said it would make her job easier to have larger, more noticeable signs, similar to the intersection at Cresheim Valley Drive and Germantown Avenue. The red and blue signs are located on either side of the road, pointing motorists left to Mt. Airy and right to Chestnut Hill.

But since both Ridge and City Avenues are state-owned, rather than city owned, similar signage is not as simple.

However, Anastasiadis said PennDOT is strongly considering Snyder’s advice.

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