Some have called the high-traffic Roosevelt Boulevard a death trap. Others have long bemoaned the state of the roadway and the danger that it presents to both pedestrians and drivers. In fact, in 2008, former Mayor Nutter characterized the Boulevard as, “one of the most hazardous roads in America.” Unfortunately, despite the recognition that a serious problem existed in north and northeast Philadelphia, solutions to the problem have been, at best, limited. Some residents would nearly undoubtedly argue that resources devoted to addressing the problem have been grossly insufficient in light of the risk, the lives lost, and the lives that continue to be lost.
In 2013, five years after the former mayor’s pronouncement of the danger, the city took some of its first steps toward addressing the problem. That year, the city repainted the lane dividers on the road and installed new crosswalk signals in an attempt to reduce both vehicular and pedestrian accidents. Furthermore, the city created an additional 12 pullout areas for purposes of police traffic enforcement. However, these steps have proven to be insufficient for the severity of the problem faced.
Early Data Suggests Pedestrian Deaths Soared in 2015
Aside from the more than 3,000 car and truck crashes on Roosevelt Boulevard over the course of the past five years, federal government data shows that pedestrian accidents soared in 2015. According to a preliminary report recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths increased by more than 10 percent in 2015. The co-author of the report stated that “This is really sobering news. Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country.”
The report attributes the increase in pedestrian deaths to several factors including the warmer weather caused by a less severe winter and public awareness regarding the health benefits of walking. These factors may be encouraging people to walk more. The conclusions were drawn from data from the first half of 2015 which includes the majority of the winter weather months. Should the data hold, it will represent the largest yearly increase in pedestrian deaths since the advent of the current federal tracking system in 1976. Furthermore, the report found that pedestrian deaths now account for 15 percent of total traffic deaths for the first time since 1975.
The Report also had bad news for motorists. Despite more than a decade of decreases, the report found that total traffic deaths increased by eight percent last year.
Federal Grant & State Funds Will Fund Traffic Study on the Boulevard
In light of rising traffic deaths, Philadelphia was finally able to secure federal and state money to address the problems with the Boulevard. A U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant combined with state and local funds will support a series of local forums of the course of the next three years. From these forums, recommendations will be made regarding safety improvements to the Boulevard by early 2019. The forums will focus on road safety issues and transportation problems on Roosevelt Boulevard. The forum will also seek input from SEPTA whose Route 14 bus runs along the road.
However, the changes to the road will not be occurring in the near future. As stated above, recommendations are not expected to be made until early 2019. The recommendations will include proposals for “short-term” and “long-term” plans. Unfortunately, the short-term plans are projected out to 2025 while the long-term plans consider the road until 2040.
Thus, for residents and commuters who frequent Roosevelt Boulevard, changes may not come until long after they move or change jobs and their daily commute. For residents of the area, it is nice to know that the problem is being looked at, but little comfort can be drawn from the fact that changes are at least three to five years down the pipeline. In the meantime, Roosevelt Boulevard — where more than 900,000 vehicles per day account for 150,000 trips – will continue to be a serious safety hazard where pedestrians, commuters, and other motorists suffer life-altering and fatal injuries.
Injured in an Accident on Roosevelt Boulevard?
If you’ve been hurt by a careless or reckless driver who failed to respect the dangers presented by this stretch of roadway, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and other damages. The experienced pedestrian and vehicle accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm have decades of practical legal experience. To discuss whether your case is a good match for our services call (215) 246-9000 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.