Work begins on East Falls pedestrian island

A stretch of Midvale Avenue in East Falls will be home to a new pedestrian island starting next spring.

The narrow, triangular structure will separate the two lanes of Midvale Avenue starting at Kelly Drive. It’ll span more than 100 feet and feature an elevated sign meant to welcome residents to the Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood.

“It’s going to calm traffic. It’s going to settle all this criss-crossing that you see here,” said Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corporation, during a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday afternoon.

The project will not reduce the number of lanes on Midvale Avenue.

Snyder was joined by elected officials and residents for the brief event celebrating the $1.1 million project.

State Rep. Pamela DeLissio (D-194) said she’s looking forward to when the island is completed.

“As a pedestrian, who for the last 12 years, has parked on East River Road and walked a four or five mile loop on Kelly Drive, and has had to negotiate this intersection, I am thrilled,” said DeLissio.

City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., whose Fourth District includes East Falls, said the pedestrian island is a significant project.

“This is not small at all. It’s part of a bigger thought process, a bigger theme called the Schuylkill River Trail,” said Jones, referring to a series of development projects designed around enjoying the namesake waterway.

The island is part of the first phase of a larger plan to transform the East Falls Riverfront Business District.

A previously un-lit block of East River Road will receive industrial lighting and change direction. Additionally, a Sunoco gas station at the intersection of Midvale and Ridge avenues will only have a single entrance and exit off of Midvale Avenue after the island is finished.

The project was funded by federal dollars through PennDOT, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and by city dollars through the Streets and Commerce departments.

The island is scheduled to be completed by May 2012.

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