As part of the “Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up!” exhibition this September, Urban Engineers, Inc. and Philadelphia City Planning Commission joined forces to address traffic conflicts and stormwater runoff at the 5-way intersection near Mt. Airy’s Stenton Station intersection. They came up with a concept to get around the problem with a proposed Stenton Station roundabout.
The “Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up!” exhibition is a design series hosted by the Community Design Collaborative, Philadelphia Water Department, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that called for examples of how green stormwater infrastructure can revitalize urban neighborhoods. This fall the partners hosted an exhibition of more than 40 such projects – including a conceptual redesign of the Stenton Station roundabout.
The idea would place a large, landscaped roundabout in the middle of the intersection of East Vernon Road, Ardleigh Street and East Phil Ellena Street near Stenton Station in Mt. Airy.
Today the intersection is a large, complicated, impermeable five-way intersection that poses both pedestrian and vehicle conflicts and does little to slow stormwater runoff.
Andy Sharpe, communications director at the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers, describes the intersection as “very tricky for those who are walking to the train station as well as those who are driving to the train station.”
In addition to traffic calming, the idea would reduce stormwater run off by catching water in the roundabout and through greened curb bump outs on each of the five roads. In total, the concept would reduce the impermeable roadway area by 32 percent.
The idea, though, is still just that – a purely conceptual idea.
David Vodila, the transportation planner who led Urban Engineers, Inc.’s involvement in the concept, said the goal was to “develop an innovative stormwater idea to arouse some interest in this type of project, particularly in this neighborhood.”
Though the Stenton Station roundabout has the potential to calm traffic, beautify the concrete space and help catch and filter stormwater, there is no indication of whether the city or the neighborhood would be interested in such a project.
The Urban Engineers, Inc. and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission partnership on this project is not a formal collaboration and the two organizations did not have a contract together. They did not analyze traffic volume, incidents of pedestrian endangerment, actual stormwater runoff or potential costs.
If the idea is to move forward, it will have to be vetted with the community.
“It really comes down to what the community thinks about it, and right now much of the community is unaware of the idea,” Sharpe said.
Even if the community approves, it is not clear if the City would be interested in or able to take on the project.
Matt Wysong, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s northwest district planner who worked on the concept, said the Streets Department could be a potential funding partner but that given their limited resources that may not be likely.
“At the moment the intersection isn’t really falling apart, so it’s not a huge priority on their part,” he said.
Wysong said the Stenton Station roundabout idea could be incorporated into the Philadelphia2035 district plans when the planning process moves into the upper northwest district, but for now, the roundabout is completely conceptual.
All images provided by Urban Engineers, Inc.