“We need a stop sign at the corner of West Rittenhouse and McCallum streets, before someone gets killed.”
I had heard that refrain repeatedly in the three-and-a-half-years since I bought a home in this tight little Germantown neighborhood surrounding those two relatively quiet, narrow, and one-way streets. People said they had been asking for a stop sign (in vain) for a long time.
The problem was the high speed of the traffic turning onto West Rittenhouse Street from Germantown Avenue. Generally, those drivers are heading towards Wissahickon Avenue, Lincoln Drive and ultimately The Schuylkill Expressway. Some use the isolated two-block stretch on West Rittenhouse Street (between Germantown Avenue and Greene Street) for cell phone calls and texting.
There had been several accidents. I was stunned to see the aftermath of one of them, where a car smashed into my neighbor’s fence and yard (I could not figure out how the car had managed to veer into her yard so abruptly). That same homeowner, Tammy Bradford, who lived right on the corner in question, told me that once, “a car smashed my gate, jumped the front steps and burst into my living room, causing more than $20,000 worth of damage to my home. That’s right; a car was in my living room.”
In September 2011, some of the neighbors organized an informal meet and greet in a parking lot near the affected corner. The meeting quickly turned into a referendum on the urgent need for a stop sign. We appealed, in writing, to Cindy Bass, who would soon take office as Councilperson for our district. In response, we all received a form letter explaining that Ms. Bass was not yet in office, but would look into the issue. To be fair to Ms. Bass, that was true, but we were impatient.
I then wrote a letter about the matter to the editor of the Germantown Newspapers, which they published on Oct. 27, 2011. However, we still had to wait until January 2012; Ms. Cindy Bass’ swearing in. Things went quiet for several months, and my neighbors wondered if the whole effort had come to nothing.
However, in February 2012, I heard from Ms. Bass. We then had a community meeting (covered by NewsWorks) with Cindy Bass and the Streets Commissioner on March 1 attended by Cindy Bass and . With input from neighborhood folk, we decided on either a “speed lump” or a stop sign.
Things were quiet again for a few months. Then, on Thursday June 21, 2012, we were all delighted to see, finally, a stop sign installed at the troubled intersection. It is still early, but I believe it has made a difference, and more than anticipated. There is more orderliness to the traffic at the intersection now and reduced speed.
We are grateful to Cindy Bass for her leadership on this issue and for helping to (somewhat) restore our faith in the political process – a politician who keeps her word – how refreshing.