Henry Ave. up­grades start to take shape

Small changes made ahead of start of work on safety im­prove­ment plan

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Kier­sten McMona­gle

WISSAHICKON » Over the past two years, a small group of Wissahickon res­i­dents con­cerned about traf­fic safety banded to­gether and worked with Penn DOT to im­ple­ment a se­ries of safety mea­sures along Henry Av­enue in Wissahickon and East Falls.

Rep­re­sen­tat ives f rom Penn DOT have met with the lo­cal com­mu­nity on sev­eral oc­ca­sions over the past year to dis­cuss the planned strate­gies to im­prove driv­ing safety along Henry Av­enue, stretch­ing from Ab­botts­ford Av­enue in East Falls to Her­mit Street in Wissahickon.

Most re­cently, rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­clud­ing Bruce Masi, Robert Nuss and El­wood Kim­mel held a pre­sen­ta­tion at the Thomas Jef­fer­son Univer­sity cam­pus in East Falls to in­form the com­mu­nity of ex­actly what changes are planned for the project, called the Henry Av­enue Safety Im­prove­ment Plan.

In to­tal, 168 road­way im­prove­ments are planned for the stretch of road in Wissahickon and East Falls, in­clud­ing the in­stal­la­tion of traf­fic lights and guardrails, resur­fac­ing the road­way, re­plac­ing ex­ist­ing traf­fic signs and trim­ming back trees that over­hang the road­way. Ul­ti­mately, these tools are in­tended to help slow down traf­fic along the heav­ily used road and de­crease the num­ber of ac­ci­dents which oc­cur there.

Work on the project won’t be­gin un­til late 2019 or early

2020, with the to­tal time­line ex­pected to last about a year and a half. While even that seems a long way off though, just get­ting the plan put to­gether wasn’t a short or easy process, and it in­volved hard work from a num­ber of con­cerned neigh­bors in Wissahickon.

Among those neigh­bors who worked to­gether with Penn DOT to or­ga­nize these safety mea­sures was Suzanne Hag­ner, a Wissahickon res­i­dent who met with Bruce Masi on sev­eral oc­ca­sions to dis­cuss con­cerns re­gard­ing driv­ing safety and traf­fic ac­ci­dents along Henry Av­enue. She also for­mu­lated a pe­ti­tion, which re­ceived over 100 sig­na­tures, re­quest­ing a traf­fic light be in­stalled at the in­ter­sec­tion of Henry Av­enue and Barnes Street.

While the traf­fic light won’t be in­stalled un­til work be­gins on the Henry Av­enue Safety Im­prove­ment Plan next year, Hag­ner said they were able to get traf­fic de­lin­eators in­stalled in the mean­time at the in­ter­sec­tion of Henry Av­enue and Her­mit Lane.

These tools, a se­ries of tall colored cones, are in­tended to prevent cars from cross­ing or mak­ing U-turns on ar­eas of Henry Av­enue where do­ing so is not legally al­lowed. Hag­ner said that a num­ber of driv­ers in the area make these il­le­gal turns and merges to save them­selves time in traf­fic, but that it of­ten re­sults in crashes be­tween driv­ers. While it’s ul­ti­mately a small change, Hag­ner said that it’s al­ready made a dif­fer­ence in traf­fic along Henry Av­enue.

These changes haven’t made every­one happy, though. Hag­ner noted that shortly af­ter the de­lin­eators were in­stalled, a frus­trated neigh­bor knocked them down. How­ever, Penn DOT had some­one sent out to re­place them shortly af­ter, and they’ve re­mained in­tact ever since.

It’s been a long process for Hag­ner and her neigh­bors, but one which she said is worth it to prevent traf­fic ac­ci­dents caused by speed­ing and reck­less driv­ing on Henry Av­enue.

“It’s amaz­ing what a cou­ple of peo­ple who are re­ally ded­i­cated can do,” she said of the small group, which in­cludes her­self and sev­eral other Wissahickon res­i­dents.

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