The City Ave District was honored to receive an award at The Twentieth Annual Access Achievement Awards Brunch on October 28, 2016, hosted by The City of Philadelphia, Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.
Inglis Foundation (Inglis) nominated The City Ave District for an Access Achievement Award in the Public Service Entity category for making accessibility features a centerpiece of its efforts to transform the City Avenue District into a pedestrian and disability friendly community.
With its high traffic volume and dynamic business/residential mix, there is an ongoing need to reevaluate the District’s infrastructure for all modes of transportation. In 2010, City Ave began to develop plans for comprehensive roadway, streetscape and storm water management upgrades to ease vehicular congestion and promote greater pedestrian accessibility along the three miles of Route One within the District (63rd Street to the entrance to the Expressway). With educational and nonprofit organizations creating high concentrations of seniors, students and people with disabilities at key traffic intersections, it was clear that a successful upgrade would have to accommodate the special pedestrian needs of these populations. Early in the planning process, City Ave planners met with representatives of St. Joseph’s University, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Inglis to determine the accessibility features that would be most useful to the individuals they serve.
City Ave’s commitment to getting it right was evident in an April 3, 2014 planning meeting between Inglis and City Ave representatives. Inglis residents carry ID cards with magnetic chips. To enhance the safety and convenience of Inglis residents, City Ave representatives will install card activated signal detectors at the three City Avenue intersections (Conshohocken State Road, 47th Street, Belmont Avenue) Inglis residents most frequently use to cross to the Bala Cynwyd Shopping plaza.
At the Inglis meeting, which included a wheelchair user with an ID card and a member of the Inglis Adapted Technology Department, City Ave representatives and their consultants asked a series of very granular questions about the card technology, the average wheelchair height, the typical crossing speed of an Inglis wheelchair user – all with the goal of ensuring that the final specs developed for the card readers would be real world functional for Inglis residents, not simply in compliance with a one size fits all accessibility standard.
This attention to detail is evident in the accessibility features that made the final cut for the streetscape upgrades. These features will serve all pedestrians, and they will significantly enhance the mobility of seniors and individuals with a range of physical disabilities. Along with the previously mentioned card readers, these features include:
- 74 ADA compliant sidewalk ramps and wider crosswalks.
- New pedestrian signal heads with processors that can optimize crossing times for individual pedestrians.
- Supplemental card readers at three intersections to enable Inglis House residents to move safely across City Avenue.
- New audio alert/warning equipment at four intersections in the vicinity of the Saint Joseph’s University and the Overbrook School for the Blind.
- Traffic adaptive signal installation and a new wireless communication system between signalized intersections that, when a pedestrian signals a crossing, will coordinate traffic flow between the intersections. This system will improve traffic flow and enhance the safety and convenience of both pedestrians and drivers, especially in situations in which pedestrians need extra time to cross.
Other upgrades, while not specifically accessibility features, will make City Avenue significantly more disability friendly: new underground electrical distribution at most intersections, new controller assemblies and mast arms for traffic lights at selected intersections, new overhead street signs and new turning lanes at selected intersections that will enhance pedestrian safety.
Phase II of the City Avenue Project got a big boost in July 2016 when the Commonwealth Financing Authority awarded City Ave a $2.05 million grant for upgrades to the sections of City Avenue extending from 50th to 63rd Streets. Scheduled for Fall 2016 and extending into Fall 2017, these improvements will include upgraded drainage, turning lanes, crosswalks, signal upgrades and enhanced lighting. These improvements will enhance mobility and safety in bad weather and at night for all pedestrians and especially people with disabilities.
To execute a project of such scope in a service district spanning county lines and involving multiple agencies at different levels of government is its own achievement. Along with seeking input from businesses and nonprofit organizations in the District, City Ave successfully collaborated with The City of Philadelphia, Lower Merion Township, PENNDOT, project engineering consultants Pennoni Associates, Inc., and multiple funding sources to plan, develop and now execute these streetscape improvements.
From the initial planning through the many stages of project development, City Ave has demonstrated that the priorities of people with disabilities are an integral part of its overall vision for the City Avenue District. As an organization whose mission is to help people with disabilities achieve their goals and live life to the fullest, Inglis honors City Ave’s commitment to people with disabilities.
Inglis Housing Corporation provides affordable, accessible housing, allowing people with physical disabilities to live their lives independently and to the fullest. Our housing communities are staffed by compassionate housing professionals.