The City Of Philadelphia has agreed to much improved design for the South Street Bridge.
During the past year, the South Street Bridge Coalition has been negotiating with the Philadelphia Streets Department and PennDOT to revise the replacement design for the crumbling South Street Bridge. When the city released the original replacement design to the public in December 2006, many South Street residents and business owners objected to it. They argued it catered almost exclusively to the needs of cars and did not include sufficient safety provisions for pedestrians and bicyclists. They also felt that there was not sufficient community involvement in the design process.
The Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition also joined in the fight. In a February 9, 2007, Inquirer columnist Inga Saffron lambasted the design as “little more than a chute for efficiently moving traffic onto the most frightening of the I-76 entry ramps.”
A few months ago, the South Street Bridge Coalition, PennDOT, and the Streets Department agreed on some significant revisions. Even with these changes, the South Street Bridge Coalition continued to push for additional revisions, they wanted a “cleaner, greener, more pedestrian and bike friendly bridge,” one that “would not be a repeat of the Walnut Street Bridge.”
On September 17th it was announced that even more progress has been made. Additional and significant design concessions were made:
Vehicle Lane Design – A four-lane traffic design will replace the five-lane design.
Crosswalk at Schuylkill River Park – An additional crosswalk with a pedestrian activated traffic signal will be added at the ramp and stair from the Bridge down to the Schuylkill River Park. The traffic signal will be portal mounted above the roadway. The curb ramps at this crosswalk will be widened to 6-ft. on both sides of the Bridge to allow multiple bicyclists to simultaneously cross and access the bicycle lanes.
- Speed Limit – The posted speed limit for the entire Bridge and viaduct will be reduced to 25 MPH.
- Bicycle Lanes – Bicycle lanes have been widened as a result of the reduction in the number of vehicle lanes.
- Advanced Bicycle Stop Bars – Bicycle stop bars will be advanced to allow bicyclists to get ahead of motorists for greater visibility and safety.
- Lighting – Pedestrian style lights will be installed. The majority of the bridge lighting will be sidewalk mounted at the curb. All light standards will include mounting brackets for future banner placement.
- Signal Timings –Traffic signal timings have been optimized for pedestrian movements and safety.
- Reflective Pavement Markers – Reflective pavement markers will be installed at the curve on the east side to improve roadway visibility.
- Sidewalk Surface – The sidewalks will be scored and tinted to resemble grey slate pavers.
- Roadway Surface – The roadway will be tinted to resemble asphalt.
- Guide Rail – Decorative vertical elements will be added to the sidewalk side so that the railing appearance is more pedestrian friendly.