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Greenfield Parents Plead for Traffic Solutions on 24th Street
Greenfield School parents are pressing the city for a solution to the lightning-fast traffic on S 24th Street at Sansom Street.
The road serves as a main thoroughfare to the K-8 Albert M. Greenfield School on Sansom Street, requiring families to navigate through swift oncoming traffic.
Lacking crosswalks, stop signs, or speed bumps, the twice-daily crossing becomes a daunting challenge for families.
Concerned parents began requesting speed bumps or stop signs from the city in August of 2022, according to emails reviewed by The Fitler Focus. It wasn’t until March of 2023 that those requests got routed to the Philadelphia Streets Department’s Traffic Engineering office.
In an interview early last week, Kevin O’Connell, a Traffic Engineer with the Philadelphia Streets Department, reported that the 24th Street study was still in his department’s queue.
He says that the queue is long— some pending studies are older than O’Connell’s 2-year tenure at the department.
The Fitler Focus reviewed emails from a Streets Department employee that showed this specific traffic study was slated to commence in March of this year, with an estimated turnaround time of 8-12 weeks.
Late last week, in response to inquiries from The Fitler Focus, Streets Department spokesperson Keisha McCarty-Skelton said that "the study should be completed by the end of the month."
Parents Weigh In
A local Greenfield parent, who chose to remain anonymous, walks her second-grader to school along 24th Street.
“When we moved in, the Chestnut Street bridge was still closed,” she recalled. The bridge construction closed off 24th Street at Chestnut, “so there wasn’t much traffic,” she said. “But now people realize they can use 24th Street to get down to South Street faster. They’re not using an appropriate speed.”
The fast traffic feels particularly perilous considering how many young children must cross the intersection daily.
“This is clearly on a path to school,” the Greenfield mom said. “There needs to be some visual signal to people that you’re not just [near] a bunch of old warehouses. This is a populated area where you need to go slow.”
Traffic Calming Criteria
O’Connell, the Traffic Engineer with the Philadelphia Streets Department, works in the office responsible for administering the studies required before speed bumps or stop signs are installed.
In a phone interview, he detailed the city's decision-making process for implementing traffic calming measures such as all-way stops and speed cushions (commonly known as speed bumps).
The criteria for installing all-way stops and speed cushions are different.
For all-way stops, the department primarily looks at documented accident history, adhering to the guidelines in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
This manual stipulates a requirement of at least five crashes within a year “that are susceptible to correction by a multi-way stop installation." Additionally, there are specific traffic volume criteria: an average of 300 vehicles per hour over any 8-hour span for the major street, and 200 vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians per hour from the minor street.
The crash thresholds are reduced if 85% of the traffic on the major street surpasses 40 mph.
However, the guidelines also make provisions for cases where cars, “after stopping, cannot see conflicting traffic and [are] not able to negotiate the intersection unless conflicting cross traffic is also required to stop,” which aptly describes this particular intersection.
The criteria for a speed cushion is simpler: O’Connell reports that their policy is to consider a location “eligible for traffic calming” via speed bumps if 15% of traffic is going 6 mph over the speed limit.
To conduct these studies, the Streets Department sends crews to monitor traffic with a radar gun, “the same ones police use,” O’Connell said. “They’ll sit there for 30 minutes to an hour and literally flag every individual, and tally how fast they’re going. Or sometimes they also use automated trailers [to monitor speed].”
Awaiting the Results
The study's results, due by the end of the month according to a Streets Department spokesperson, will guide the Department’s decision on potential traffic calming solutions.
The decision can’t come soon enough for Greenfield parent Kristle Lynch, who has a 1st grader and a 3rd grader at the school. “There’s just no guidance for where children should cross,” Lynch says.
As the city deliberates, Greenfield families brace every day for a dangerous crossing, hoping for solutions that protect Fitler Square’s youngest pedestrians.
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