Nightmare on Midvale?

Or hyperbole on Henry? An accident at a problem intersection kicks off strong words in an online thread. But is all the brouhaha warranted? 

In a post titled “Nightmare on Midvale II,” neighbors on the popular community forum Nextdoor.com shared photos of an accident that took place around 7pm Tuesday July 24th.

According to a subsequent report on Philly.com, a car broadsided a Route K SEPTA bus at the intersection of Henry and Midvale Avenues.

“Three people suffered minor injuries: one person on the bus and two people in the car were taken to area hospitals as a precaution,” the article noted.

On Nextdoor, Raymond Lucci (and longtime EFCC traffic committee member) demanded, “Is this any way to live? In fear of 2 ton projectiles hurling at you from the street while you walk your dog or stroll your child in a carriage?”

Philly.com, photo credit Tish Gembala via Nextdoor

In two extended comments, he called for neighbors to see this “remarkable, horrible, and not surprising” accident as a rallying point. “What is needed is a united front and REAL action before a greater tragedy occurs…” he insisted, “Think of the families attempting to cross this potential deathtrap on their way to the park and a future playground!”

FACT CHECK: the community did come together as a united front on this very issue. In April of 2017, PennDOT presented several possible plans for Henry Avenue safety measures at a well-attended public meeting.

Random neighbors spontaneously demanded PennDOT take our vote while a Traffic Committee member claimed our opinions were not informed enough. Seriously – we have the video, it’s kinda wild how much drama unfolded.

We also have all the slides from the meeting posted for review, including “Option Five,” which won the vote. This plan includes ADA ramps and upgraded traffic signals, plus guardrails, landscaped islands, new signage and other visual cues to help make Henry Ave feel less like a highway, more like the 35 mph road that it is. PennDOT’s goal was to improve safety without lowering Henry Avenue’s current capacity, or LOS (“Level of Service”).

Members/advisors of EFCC’s traffic committee, however, argued strongly that more radical changes are needed – such as roundabouts at several intersections and/or reducing Henry Avenue to one lane of traffic through East Falls (among other things). They claimed the road was so dangerous, some kind of major re-engineering was required.

Problem was, they couldn’t seem to agree within their committee exactly which safety overhauls should go where. Since 2012, they’d been going back and forth among themselves and with PennDOT, who was anxious to move forward. At the meeting, it seemed obvious EFCC’s Traffic Committee wanted to stall plans until they could create something enforceable that would meet all their demands.

The audience, however, was not having it.  Most people agreed with PennDOT’s goals to improve safety while maintaining traffic flow — as a good first step, at least (more drastic changes could always be considered if PennDOT’s suggestions prove unsatisfactory).

As the arguments dragged on between Traffic Committee and PennDOT, exasperation filled the room. After two hours, someone demanded a vote, another voice seconded the motion and Option 5 was overwhelmingly chosen. Last November, PennDOT presented their designs, which involve 168 roadway improvements to our 1.4 mile stretch of Henry.

At the time, PennDOT announced this project would begin immediately but former links to their timeline are no longer available, and even our most furious googling has failed to turn up any current specs. Hopefully, we’ll be able to update this post with some information soon.

Not everyone likes being recorded at meetings (but it’s totally legal, you don’t even need a release)

Meanwhile, the one good thing about recording all these public meetings, we think, is the documentation they provide. Don’t trust everything you hear on social media! We’ve got years of community debates and deliberations on schools/traffic/parking/new business/etc archived here on EastFallsLocal.com. Searchable, too. Because the more you know.

Spread the news! If you attend a public meeting, please consider taking video  — or even just really good notes! — and giving us a recap in your own words. We’ll edit and format for free, and add to our searchable archives where other neighbors can easily find and share. We’ll also promote your recap to our 5,000+ followers (with your byline). Help keep citizens engaged and local politics fair and transparent. Email editor@eastfallslocal.com.

 

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