Talk about Planning Ahead

Philadelphia is the best city in the U.S., hands-down.

But depsite its magnificence, it does have its problems.

One of those problems is Roosevelt Boulevard, a 12-lane highway that runs through the middle of a fairly populous part of the city.

Every year, there are about 700 crashes and 10 traffic fatalities on this single street. A 2001 review by State Farm Insurance found that two of the three most dangerous intersections in the United States are on Roosevelt Boulevard. (source).

In response to the dangerous conditions the Philadelphia Parking Authority started using speed cameras last June  at eight intersections along the Boulevard. Between June and February, 700,000 warnings or tickets for speeding were issued to drivers. The cameras seemed to work. In the first month, there were 224,000 speeding violations recorded by the cameras; the number of violations dropped to 16,776 by February. (source)

But the city has even bigger plans. (source)

This past Friday, the city released both short-term and long-term proposals to improve safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Some measures have already been rolled out in the last few years, but there are also other changes that could be in place by 2025, as well as two multi-billion-dollar suggestions to radically transform the 12-lane boulevard by 2040.

Talk about planning ahead.

The proposed changes are part of the Roosevelt Boulevard Route for Change Program, a collective effort by the City of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and SEPTA first launched in 2016 using federal grant dollars.

The report lays out several goals by 2025, including:

  • Changing traffic signal cycle times
  • Realigning crosswalks and curb ramps
  • Closing sidewalk gaps
  • Building curb extensions
  • Improving bus stops
  • Adding bus-only lanes
  • Adding landscaping and art

The report also lays out some goals by 2040, with two plans that could help to accompish such goals.

  • The first would be a $1.9 billion “neighborhood boulevard,” while the other would be a much more radical, $10.8 billion “partially capped expressway.”
  • The second plan would be a much more radical, a $10.8 billion “partially capped expressway.” This woud enttail part of the highway moving underground.

I don’t know much about the Big Dig project that took place in Boston, but a quick peek at WIkipedia offers perhaps some similarities:

Planning began in 1982, and the project was completed by 2006. It was the most expenisve highway project ever in the U.S. costing, in today’s dollars, about $21.5 billion dollars. Cost oevrruns resulted in the final cost being neearly three times the original estimate.

I’ve driven on the Roosevelet Boulevard before (fortunately not very often), and I will attest to it being a stressful experience.

So I was excited to hear about these plans. I love seeing people, and orgainizations, making long-term plans. While it is hard to imagine what the word will be like twenty years from now, I think it is important to be proactive in such matters, particualrly when such improvements could save lives.

Hopefully, Philadelphia can learn a thing or two from Boston’s Big Dig that will help keep the project on schedule and within budget.

And when it’s all complete, hopefully I’ll be able to take my 2006 Matrix for a drive under the Roosevelt Boulevard.

Perhaps the underground can be named the Sub Rosey Highway, in honor of the Klaatu song Sub Rosa Subway, written in memory of the efforts of Alfred Ely Beach to create the Beach Pneumatic Transit, the New York City Subway’s precursor.

54 thoughts on “Talk about Planning Ahead

    1. you are such a curious reader! I had the same thought about whether the reduction in tickets lead to a reduction in accidents and fatalities, but I did not see any mention of that in the one article I referenced. Maybe I’ll try to do some digging. You would hope that there was a reduction, since I am sure that is why they put the cameras in palce.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Billions of dollars spent on one street? This sounds like a pork barrel project to me. Some folks are going to get very rich off of it, and end up on Easy Street. Meanwhile, more and more debt will rack up for the taxpayer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! I would not want to drive on a 12 lane highway! We have been to Philadelphia several times but I never realized this about Roosevelt Blvd. Now I am curious if my Dad ever drove on it. Will have to ask him.


    1. the road was not built to handle the volume of traffic that has bult up over the years. Combined with bad driving, it’s a recipe for disaster. And yes – goodpoint about the reduced number of drivers on the road…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The statistics seem to indicate the program is working, but Tandy makes a good point about more people working from home. We flew for the first time since the pandemic began, and there were considerably fewer people in all of the airports we were in. Some of the other goals sound very worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! I drove on The Boulevard everyday for six years. Trust me: it’s a hot, dangerous mess. Revamping it will be worth every penny, and will undoubtedly save lives. 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It definitely wore on me toward the end. When I lived in Center City, it was about 35 minutes in the morning, and closer to an hour on the way home. When I moved to West Chester, it was 70 minutes each way. While the Boulevard was only a part of the journey, it certainly added to the stress! 🤪

        Liked by 1 person

  5. wow, that’s quite an initiative. i remember stories of the big dig, and agree, hopefully philly won’t suffer the same fate. i love your name suggestion and hope you 2006 matrix dream comes true.

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  6. I have driven on the Roosevelt and I agree it can use all the help it can get. Road work may be a bit disruptive to commuters, but there are fewer of those these days, so it may be less impactful. This sounds like a worthwhile project and I hope they can keep it moving and on budget (or somewhere close).

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  7. I get really frustrated with the glacial speed of change in the world. Driving home from picking up my daughter in Vermont (a 9 – 10 hour endeavor), I commented to my wife that the experience of traveling to Vermont hasn’t really improved in over 50 years. I feel like we should be zipping around in personal hovercrafts by now. And looking forward twenty years, Philly anticipates so much car growth, they need to bury the highway. Where is the promise of the future?

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    1. I don’t mind long drives, but two 9-10 hour drives over the course of a couple of days is a bit much. I wonder if I’ll live long enough to see lots of people flying in their own airplanes

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      1. My goal is to never drive on a 12 lane highway and for your blog to allow me to comment again! I feel like I been “suspended” by the teacher. LOL!


      2. And the 12-lane highway goes right through a heavily populated part fo the city! Let’s hope that moving forward your comments start working correctly!


  8. It’s so cool to hear about cities in the USA, a place that I might not be able to visit in this lifetime due to geographical, financial, and pandemic reasons. Thanks for sharing this, Jim!


  9. Automated traffic enforcement is a way to fleece money from safe drivers for profit, with poor engineering and predatory ticketing. Many errors too. Pull up the National Motorists Association.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jim, your discussion takes back a few years ago with the use of Red Light Cameras at certain busy, dangerous intersections. They were quite effective in reducing accidents. Then the City of Columbus lost in court because this awesome technology shouldn’t be issuing tickets to motorists for running red lights. Only uniformed officers can witness these infractions and write tickets.

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