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