Philadelphia Residents Ask for Leadership from the Mayor’s office and Council Members Johnson and Squilla on a Safer Washington Avenue

Media Contacts
Nicole Brunet

PHILADELPHIA, PA Representatives from South Philadelphia community organizations, along with roadway safety advocates, delivered a petition with over 2,500 signatures today calling on District Councilmembers Johnson and Squilla to support the Washington Avenue Repaving and Improvement Project, without modifying the self-declared Final Design Decision, and without delay.

Data released by the Mayor’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure & Sustainability (oTIS) show that Washington Avenue is one of the most dangerous roads in Philadelphia. Between 2012 and 2018, oTIS reported over 250 car crashes with 4 fatalities along Washington Avenue

1st District PA State Senator Nikil Saval says, “The current design of Washington Avenue serves no one. Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike put themselves at risk when they travel this road. As an elected official, I take seriously my constituents’ concerns about the safety of this vital corridor, and I have brought home hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grants to make possible the transformation of this dangerous road into a space that works for everyone. OTIS engaged in a thoughtful, multiyear public outreach campaign with the surrounding communities, which culminated in the three-lane Final Design. I urge them to go forward immediately with this plan.”

The proposed pedestrian safety improvements are also supported by principals and parents groups at five nearby elementary schools. “Half of the kids in the Stanton catchment have to cross Washington Avenue just to get to their neighborhood elementary school,” said Point Breeze resident and Stanton parent, J.R. King. “We shouldn’t treat it like an industrial loading zone surrounded by a four-lane highway.”

Organizers say the petition demonstrates that the repaving project has broad geographic support across South Philadelphia. “The petition shows that support for a safer Washington Avenue comes from residents both North and South of Washington Avenue and East and West of Broad Street,” said King, who helped organize the petition.  

The neighborhoods with the most petition supporters are Point Breeze, Graduate Hospital, Passyunk Square, and Bella Vista. Organizers say 1,076 petition supporters are residents of the Second Council District, represented by Johnson, and over 1,022 petition supporters live in the First Council District, represented by Squilla.

The repaving and layout changes, originally scheduled for mid-2021, have since been delayed as oTIS extends public engagement for this project into its ninth year.

Since 2013, the City has been engaging with the community on the configuration of this roadway. In 2020, oTIS held 37 meetings with 26 civic organizations, and received nearly 5,500 online survey responses from nearby residents. Overall, 71% of all respondents to oTIS’ online survey rated the 3-lane layout option as the most preferred option. 

In 2021, oTIS convened a working group for this project, inviting various organizations across South Philadelphia. The working group created and gathered printed surveys to increase access for offline constituencies. Out of over 800 responses, more than 90% favored changes to Washington Ave, most citing safety as a major concern.

Chantal Chahine, a medical resident at a local hospital added, “I cross Washington avenue at least twice a day on foot, by bike, and by bus as part of my commute. The current road design permits traffic to travel too fast for a road in the middle of a densely populated area; the built environment encourages bad decisions by drivers in 4,000 lb vehicles that I share the road with. I encourage the city to implement the final design decision that will go some way addressing the safety issues raised here as well as making our neighborhood a more equitable and healthier community.

Cameron Adamez, South Philly resident said, “I believe in the integrity of the outreach process.  Multilingual mailings went out to every business and resident along the Washington Ave corridor, and meetings were held with civic and business associations to explain the options and solicit feedback..The people have spoken – neighbors want safety improvements that will ease bus boarding, better protect those crossing Washington Ave and properly provide for the much needed customer parking and loading needs of our local businesses..”

State Representative of District 182 Brian Sims said,“Washington Avenue, as it is currently designed, is dangerous for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike and is in dire need of an update to safely serve those who live, work, and commute along the corridor. My constituents have collaborated with OTIS over the course of their multiyear public outreach campaign, and they have made it very clear that they overwhelmingly support the three-lane design that’s pending construction. The funding is in place and there is a clear public consensus on the issue, so it is time to move forward with this sorely needed infrastructure upgrade.”

The petition is sponsored by the Point Breeze Business Association and neighborhood groups in Graduate Hospital, Bella Vista, Passyunk Square, East Passyunk Crossing, and Dickinson Square West. It is supported by PennEnvironment, 5th Square, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.


PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit

South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) is the registered community organization for residents and businesses from South to Washington, Broad to the Schuylkill River. 

BVNA is the civic association and RCO for the neighborhood of Bella Vista, whose boundaries are South Street to Washington Avenue, 11th Street to 6th Street.

5th Square is Philadelphia’s urbanist political action committee. We’re an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and better public spaces. 

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit.

Proposed 3-Lane Washington Ave Design

Proposed 3-Lane Washington Ave Design via Philadelphia Office of Transportation Infrastructure & Sustainability