By the end of Fall, the city hopes to have rumble strips placed along both the yellow centerlines and white edge lines of the entirety of the corridor. It also hopes to install speed tables.
With help from a state grant, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will soon commence work on traffic calming measures for the Mt. Airy stretch of Lincoln Drive that runs from Cliveden Street to West Allens Lane. The measures include new speed tables, speed feedback displays, rumble strips and the creation of a new intersection at Lincoln Drive and Emlen Street.
“It’s an outstanding plan,” said Anne Dicker, the leader of the West Mt. Airy Neighbors’ traffic calming committee. “It’s going to get the drivers to slow down.”
By the end of Fall, the city hopes to have rumble strips placed along both the yellow centerlines and white edge lines of the entirety of the corridor. It also hopes to have speed tables installed in six locations: between Nippon Street and West Mt. Airy Avenue, between Wellesley Road and West Durham Road, between McCallum Street and Greene Street, two sets between Hortter Street and Springer Street, and another table between Upsal Street and Wayne Avenue.
The end of Fall will also see speed feedback displays that tell drivers how fast they’re going relative to the posted speed limit in three locations: on the southbound side of Lincoln Drive between Mt. Pleasant Avenue and Glen Echo Road, on the southbound side of Lincoln Drive between Sedgwick and Emlen Streets and on the southbound side of Lincoln Drive between Wayne Avenue and Upsal Street.
Also in PennDOT’s plan for Fall is a much-needed fix to the left-hand turn lane for Greene Street, which drivers experience while driving northbound on Lincoln. Because the left lane of Lincoln Drive abruptly turns into a left-hand turn lane, many drivers find themselves merging into Lincoln Drive’s right-hand lane just before the intersection at Greene Street. PennDOT plans to fix this by adding lane reduction transition arrows far enough before drivers hit Greene Street, which will encourage them to merge right before it’s too dangerous to do so.
“The left-hand turn at Greene is a big deal,” Dicker said. “It looks tentatively like they’ve solved that problem.”
The new intersection at Lincoln Drive and Emlen Street is part of the state transportation department’s long-term plans; the intersection is currently in the design phase and construction isn’t scheduled to begin until 2025. Completion is expected for sometime in 2026. Currently, the intersection features a confusing island in the middle, which has caused drivers to sometimes make improper left turns onto Emlen in the wrong lane.
Many residents’ lone disappointment with PennDOT’s plans, including Dicker’s, was that the Emlen Street intersection wasn’t turned into a roundabout. But that was simply an issue of funding, explained Vincent DeFlavia, one of the project consultants hired by PennDOT.
“It's just a big project from design-wise and construction-wise,” he said. “Money has to be found. So what we're gonna do, at least in an interim to see how it works out, is to make that a traditional four-way intersection.”
Over the past several months, many residents have also clamored for speed cameras along Lincoln Drive. Due to state law, however, speed cameras are currently illegal in Philadelphia everywhere except Roosevelt Boulevard and highway work zones.
Long term, the department plans to install mast arms with overhead traffic signals throughout the corridor, along with pedestrian countdown signals, ADA ramps and audible pedestrian push buttons.
Dicker, who has been the leading voice in the community’s years-long fight for traffic calming measures on Lincoln Drive, has long complained of speeding cars in the throughway, many of which have ended up in accidents and in residents’ lawns.
According to crash data provided by PennDOT from Jan. 1, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2022, the stretch of Lincoln Drive from Cliveden Street to West Allens Lane had 74 crashes, 34 of which definitely involved injuries. Another 15 resulted in possible injuries and 19 involved property damage.
According to a PennDOT spokesperson, a reportable crash has to involve a towed vehicle and/or an injury. All other crashes are considered non-reportable and are not submitted to PennDOT.
Lincoln Drive is part of Philadelphia’s “high injury network,” which is the 12% of Philadelphia roads that account for 80% of its crashes.