Northeast Times

New intersection could uproot Boulevard for two years

Start­Frag­ment

A new in­ter­sec­tion at Roosevelt Boulevard and Holme Av­en­ue could take two years to build and cost tax­pay­ers $10 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Trans­port­a­tion pro­ject man­ager who re­vealed con­struc­tion plans dur­ing the Sept. 26 meet­ing of the Holme Circle Civic As­so­ci­ation.

The round­about in­ter­sec­tion now known as Pennypack Circle will be re­con­figured to re­semble the in­ter­sec­tion at Roosevelt Boulevard and Cottman Av­en­ue, said Dav­id Didi­er, the as­so­ci­ate vice pres­id­ent of the en­gin­eer­ing firm AE­COM.

AE­COM and an­oth­er en­gin­eer­ing firm, HNTB, both based in Cen­ter City, are con­tract con­sult­ants on the pro­ject, which is in “fi­nal design phase,” Didi­er said.

The ex­ist­ing con­fig­ur­a­tion of Pennypack Circle in­cor­por­ates the 12-lane Roosevelt Boulevard (serving as U.S. Route 1), along with Holme Av­en­ue to the east and Solly Av­en­ue to the west.

The in­ner six lanes of the Boulevard (three north­bound and three south­bound) pass un­der­neath two arcing bridges that con­nect Holme with Solly and cre­ate a traffic circle. The out­er six lanes of the Boulevard (three in each dir­ec­tion) in­ter­sect the bridges and al­low mo­tor­ists to exit the park­way-style high­way.

Ac­cord­ing to HNTB en­gin­eer Jeff Hess, the two ex­ist­ing bridges — which opened in 1964 — are struc­tur­ally de­fi­cient and must be re­placed. Un­der the new plan, one straight bridge would carry six lanes of traffic (three east­bound and three west­bound), con­nect­ing Holme Av­en­ue dir­ectly with Solly Av­en­ue.

The new con­fig­ur­a­tion would im­prove safety, re­duce long-term main­ten­ance costs and al­low mo­tor­ists to use the old bridges while the new one is be­ing built.

“Traffic circles work great at lower volumes and without [traffic] sig­nals,” said Didi­er.

However, the Pennypack Circle handles tens of thou­sands of vehicles a day and has four sig­nal­ized in­ter­sec­tions, as well as a “stop con­trol” light at nearby Poquess­ing Av­en­ue.

The cost sav­ings on the new con­fig­ur­a­tion will kick in over the long term. “It’s main­tain­ing one bridge versus main­tain­ing two bridges,” Didi­er said.

Pro­ject of­fi­cials are hop­ing to be­gin con­struc­tion next fall, ac­count­ing for right-of-way ac­quis­i­tion and an open bid­ding pro­cess. The plan is sub­ject to modi­fic­a­tion and calls for PennDOT to ac­quire some land from Naz­areth Hos­pit­al.

Dur­ing con­struc­tion, emer­gency vehicles must be able to ac­cess the hos­pit­al, as well as a Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment sta­tion on the north­bound side of the Boulevard.

Neigh­bors should ex­pect to see new pav­ing over a grassy me­di­an strip on Holme Av­en­ue between the Boulevard and Fair­field Street as well as new traffic sig­nals at Holme and Fair­field.

The en­gin­eers an­ti­cip­ate long-term lane clos­ures on the out­er sec­tions of the Boulevard, as well as short-term lane clos­ures on the in­ner or “ex­press” lanes. Long-term lane re­stric­tions will be in ef­fect on Holme Av­en­ue. ••End­Frag­ment 

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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