Rittenhouse Street residents to Streets Department: Give us a stop sign

A stop sign in the urban landscape is seemingly invisible, but not for Tammy Bradford.

Throughout the past 18 years, the lack of stop signs at the corner of McCallum and W. Rittenhouse streets has created eight major car accidents in front of her house.

The worst was in 1999, when a car smashed her gate, jumped the front steps and burst into her living room causing more than $20,000 worth of damage to her home.

But the accidents are so frequent she said she’s become numb.

“Unless there’s damage done directly on my property, I don’t even consider it an accident anymore,” she said, explaining that she rarely reports collisions now.

When it comes to the smaller speed bumps proposed to be installed along West Rittenhouse Street, Bradford is excited.

“I believe the speed lumps will make a difference,” she said. “People care about their car way more than they do about pedestrians or somebody else’s property.”

Community traffic meeting

Bradford and more than a dozen residents living near West Rittenhouse Street gathered with Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass and Streets Department officials to hash out ways to control traffic patterns on the narrow thoroughfare.

Complaints of excessive speeding, and a number of accidents reported at the corner of McCallum and W. Rittenhouse St. have spurred neighbors to seek solutions.

While they said they wanted a stop sign at the corner of McCallum Street for westbound traffic heading towards Lincoln Drive, officials disagreed that a sign will fix the issue.

Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson noted that it’s obvious the traffic pattern doesn’t work well for the community.

“Something has to change,” she said, noting that there’s not enough traffic on McCallum to warrant a sign. “When you put up a stop sign and one is not warranted, in effect, it’s more dangerous. It may not be a speeding problem, but you may have a collision problem.”

Also concerned that the city would open itself to liability issues if an accident occurred there, the Streets Department plans on doing a survey of traffic patterns in the neighborhood.

Other options

The city offered neighbors four options: A stop sign, a set of removable “speed lumps” (smaller than the traditional speed bump so emergency service vehicles won’t be slowed), a change in street direction (like an opposite one way) or moving parking spaces to force cars to travel more cautiously.

“You’re gonna hear the cars ‘bump da bump’ outside your house, every single day,” said Bass. “If we put them down, and it doesn’t have the intended effect, we can revisit.”

Those street changes won’t take effect just yet. During the next month, a form will be mailed out to immediately affected neighbors for final approval. Residents will have 30 days to voice their concerns.

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