Hate Roosevelt Boulevard? Here’s Your Chance to Change It for the Better

It's not really a freeway, but motorists treat it like one. The "Route for Change" program will hold community forums this month where residents and users are encouraged to share their stories.

A three-year project aims to make the street everyone loves to hate a little more lovable. | Map: RooseveltBlvd.com

A three-year project aims to make the street everyone loves to hate a little more lovable. | Map: RooseveltBlvd.com

Are you one of the many Roosevelt Boulevard users who are ready to “route for change” for the Northeast’s most reviled thoroughfare? (I no longer live there, but I’m still in that camp. In fact, I’ve already made my preferences known here.)

The city wants to hear from you. So do PennDOT and SEPTA.

All three agencies are partners in a three-year, $5 million study aimed at transforming the 14-mile-long, 12-lane-wide not-really-a-freeway-but-the-motorists-treat-it-like-one into a city street that works for everyone, including bicyclists, transit users, pedestrians and the people and businesses located along it. The study officially kicks off with a series of public forums from April 14th to 21st where Northeast residents, visitors and other Boulevard users are encouraged to share their stories — horror or otherwise — about using the street.

“Roosevelt Boulevard is one of very few highways of its kind in the United States — essentially a limited access highway functioning as an urban street in a densely populated area,” PennDOT District 6 Executive Kenneth McClain said in a statement. “While actions have been taken to make the Boulevard safer despite its physical characteristics, crashes still occur and public safety concerns exist.  PennDOT is committed to partnering with the City of Philadelphia and SEPTA to identify early action and long-term improvements that will make the Boulevard safer for everyone who travels, lives, and does business along the corridor.”

The street’s enormous width and its dual-dual-roadway design make it a prime spot for accidents: Route for Change Program Manager Angie Dixon in the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems noted that there have been 3,000 reportable crashes on the Boulevard in the last five years.

Pedestrians especially find the street intimidating: “Our neighbors have to cross 12 lanes of high speed vehicular traffic, which is the length of a football field, to grab the bus, or reach the stores right across the street,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

In addition to hearing your tales of the Boulevard, the Route for Change team also wants to hear your ideas about what the road should look like in the future. With plans already in the works for a “BRT lite” express bus service, SEPTA also wants feedback on how to make the street kinder and gentler for transit users, and bicyclists are also part of the future mix.

The five forums will be held at locations on or near the Boulevard from its southern end in Hunting Park/Logan to its northern end at Neshaminy Mall. The dates, times and locations for each forum appear below.

Spanish-language interpreters will be available at every forum.
*Chinese-language interpreters available.
†Russian-language interpreters available. 

Thursday, April 14: 6 to 8 p.m. at the Four Points Sheraton, 9461 Roosevelt Blvd. SEPTA: Bus Routes 1, 14 and 19.†

Saturday, April 16: 1 to 3 p.m. at the Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St. SEPTA: Bus Routes 25, 56 and J.*

Tuesday, April 19: 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lenfest Center, 3890 N. 10th St. SEPTA: Broad Street Line (Hunting Park and Erie stations) or Bus Routes 4 and 53.*

Wednesday, April 20: 6 to 8 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Philadelphia Northeast, 2400 Old Lincoln Highway, Trevose. SEPTA: Bus Routes 1 and 14.†

Thursday, April 21: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Lincoln High School, 4500 Ryan Ave. SEPTA: Bus Routes 70 and 88.*

The “Route for Change” study is funded primarily by a TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that covers half its cost. The city, PennDOT and SEPTA are each chipping in equal shares of the remaining half.

For more information about the study, and to share your own story if you can’t attend one of the forums, visit RooseveltBlvd.com.

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