Safety and Equity on Washington Avenue

The "final design" decision to take Washington Avenue from 5 lanes to 3 was praised by many - then scrapped after concerns from vocal community organizations.

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Will Tung and his daughter Juniper cross Washington Avenue.

Will Tung and his daughter Juniper, 8, cross Washington Avenue at 17th Street. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

City officials were met with harsh backlash this month when they announced that Washington Avenue, one of Philadelphia’s statistically most dangerous roads, would not be put on the “road diet” promised after years of planning and engagement. When the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS) released a final plan in 2020 to reduce the high-injury road from 5 lanes to 3, many residents and commuters who use the thoroughfare were satisfied that the new design would result in a safer neighborhood and decreased fatalities. But other neighbors had been raising concerns about rapid gentrification of the area, parking, emergency vehicles and potential harm to long-established businesses, so the city pivoted, and is now considering new designs, calling it “a matter of equity.”


Michael Carroll, Deputy Managing Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability

Daniel Pearson, Point Breeze resident and opinion writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer

Albert Littlepage, President of the Point Breeze Community Development Coalition

Gabriel Pechacek, Founder of the Washington Avenue Association of Businesses and Residents

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The city plans to hold a public open house on March 1 at 6 p.m for those interested in seeing the finalized plans before construction.

Special thanks to WHYY reporter Sophia Schmidt for her extensive coverage of this important community issue.

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