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Washington Ave. roadwork begins on Monday. Here’s what you need to know.

Henry Savage - Philly Inquirer

The repaving phase of construction will be completed by the end of October. Crews will begin on Fourth Street and continue west to Grays Ferry Avenue.

Starting Monday, Aug. 29, the city will begin tearing up old roadway and repaving Washington Avenue. Expect temporary street closures and parking restrictions, especially during overnight hours.

The repaving phase of construction will be completed by the end of October, according to the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS). Crews will begin on Fourth Street and continue west across Washington Avenue ending at Grays Ferry Avenue.

Construction will happen in four tentatively scheduled phases:

  • Phase 1: Remove and tear up old asphalt roadways. Starting Monday Aug. 29, during overnight hours 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. crews will remove asphalt from the roads.

  • Phase 2: Adjust manholes and utility boxes for repaving. Crews will begin adjustments during daytime hours 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Phase 3: Repaving of roadway. Final paving operations will take place during overnight hours 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

  • Phase 4: Final line striping. Crews will paint the new lanes onto the roadway and additional safety improvements and new parking and loading signs will be installed following final line striping.

Construction of this project should be completed by the end of 2022, according to OTIS.

“After hearing for many years from residents and businesses about issues on Washington Avenue, in particular about issues with paving, traffic safety, parking, crossing the street, and riding a bike — we are thrilled repaving is starting next week,” said Deputy Managing Director for Transportation Mike Carroll in a press release. “By the end of this year, Washington Avenue will be a much smoother street for all road users with many additional traffic safety improvements within the Second District.”

In the works for more than a decade, the Washington Avenue Repaving and Improvement Project is a part of the city’s Vision Zero efforts to improve safety on roadways in Philly. Washington Avenue is one of the 12% of roadways in the city that account for 80% of all traffic deaths and injuries.

It took a lot to get to this point. Here’s a breakdown.

In September 2020, the city released a plan for Washington Avenue that changed the road from five vehicle lanes to three lanes with two parking-protected bike lanes. OTIS came up with this plan after an extensive and public outreach process earlier that year. Thousands weighed in on the redesign proposals, with responses collected through a survey, phone and email. Results were revealed in July, with a majority of respondents preferring the three-lane layout.

After that plan was announced, the city received concerns from City Council members, business associations, and community members who said the original 2020 outreach process was not accessible. Specifically, that the outreach had a strong virtual element that limited people who don’t have access to internet from participating, according to OTIS. OTIS planners then paused the project and started a second year of outreach in fall 2021.

The city held additional meetings to reach people who hadn’t weighed in earlier, specifically in Point Breeze and Grays Ferry, where lower-income residents and residents of color have been historically underrepresented in city planning decisions, according to OTIS.

In March 2022, OTIS released a revised plan for the Washington Avenue redesign. The new plan would have the avenue vary between three, four, and five traffic lanes. However, in July 2022, an update to the second plan limited the reduction in traffic lanes and the addition of safety features to the section of Washington Avenue from Fourth to 12th Streets.

Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson did not support reducing the number of traffic lanes in the section of the avenue in his district, citing community concerns over slowed traffic, new development and gentrification. From Grays Ferry Avenue to 16th Street, the road will be repaved and remain five lanes and no new safety features will be installed.

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