City Council Told Making Philly Highway Safe Could Cost $3 Billion

December 14, 2006

Philadelphia’s heavily traveled Roosevelt Boulevard, originally designed in 1902, is inherently dangerous and could be made safer only at huge cost, witnesses told City Council.

Following four pedestrian deaths in just one month, the council this week began looking for ways to fix the highway, which stretches 14 miles long, and at times 12 lanes wide, through northeast Philadelphia.

Converting the boulevard into a depressed highway or a conventional four-lane route with a median could cost up to $3 billion, approaching the $3.6 billion amount of the city’s entire annual budget, said Clarena Tolson, streets commissioner.

Cathy Rossi, an American Automobile Association spokeswoman, suggested a heavy police presence, higher fines and banning right turns on red lights could improve safety. Councilman Brian J.O’Neill suggested shutting down the middle six lanes of the highwas.

The City Council has already approved installation of several red-light enforcement cameras at the Boulevard’s most dangerous intersections, and six more are proposed.

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