Sprucing up West Passyunk and Snyder

Two initiatives are aspiring to improve the corridor identities for parts of West Passyunk and Newbold.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 16, 2012

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These images depict current conditions of and planned improvements for 16th Street along Passyunk and Snyder avenues. A blend of federal and City funds is helping to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety along the popular thoroughfares.

Photo by Philadelphia Streets Department

Andrew Pinkham confessed to being a willing victim of “the cleanup bug” Tuesday. The West Passyunk Neighbors Association president is indulging his panache for purity as the program manager for the Snyder Avenue Corridor Cleaning program, a 12-month plot to polish and beautify 18th through 25th streets.

A $60,000 Philadelphia Department of Commerce grant is allowing Pinkham and Diversified Community Services, 1529 S. 22nd St., to continue their calling to improve Snyder Avenue as a vibrant stretch for businesses and residents.

“It started last year as pie-in-the-sky idea at a community police meeting,” Pinkham, a resident of the 2000 block of South 19th Street, said of his latest ambitious endeavor to rid his turf of litter.

He wondered how much tidying the avenue for a year would cost and extended his civic engagement by again teaming with Diversified’s Executive Director Cheryl Weiss. Her organization permitted his association to hold its initial meetings at Dixon House, 1920 S. 20th St., so she had known of his communal prowess.

“We are concerned about improving numerous areas, and tending to litter is an element of fixing problems,” Weiss said Tuesday.

The Bella Vista resident and Pinkham submitted proposals early last spring and learned during the summer that the City would give the thoroughfare an enhanced version of the annual Philly Spring Cleanup.

“We had felt our coverage area is moving forward anyway, so these funds will help us to realize that vision sooner,” Pinkham said.

For Weiss, whose employer will receive invoices detailing the amount of refuse from ABM Industries Inc., the project will continue the interest her Point Breeze site has in cleaning and greening, as it has enlisted volunteers to garden an area near its headquarters at the Mamie Nichols Center. The corridor work’s adjacency to her job inspires Weiss to feel the services could rejuvenate the entire community and make local shopping a constant pleasure again.

“It will not be like years ago, but I envision a more robust retail corridor,” she said, citing nearby Point Breeze Avenue’s decline in stores as proof that preferences have shifted from making area purchases to enjoying mall runs.

Likewise enthused about prospects for proprietors, Pinkham noted the possibility of banners and visual improvements as elements of the grant’s beautification aspects.

“I’ve been visiting the corridor and interacting with the business owners,” he said of the keepers whose storefronts have begun to look more pleasing minus clutter, with paper as the prime offender.

He is hoping to unite many of the hawkers into a merchants association. Their combined growth appeals to Pinkham, who, like Weiss, wants fewer vacancies along the seven-block expanse.

“We want to ensure the presence of goods and services to which people are most responsive,” Weiss said.


The other mission, dubbed the Passyunk Avenue Corridor Improvement Project, is a $6.4-million concept, with 80 percent of funds deriving from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It debuted Jan. 30 and will involve bettering Broad to 63rd streets, a territory that includes a chunk of Southwest Philly.

Improving pedestrian safety and traffic circulation and reducing traffic congestion and delays comprise the vision, which the Streets Department had not commented on as of press time. The eight-element initiative will run through Dec. 10 and stands to usher in electrical, directional and structural changes. Fourteen intersections are slated to receive signal improvements, new traffic mast arms and poles, light-emitting diode traffic signals and signal controllers allowing for enriched signal phasing, according to the plan.

The luminous activities will continue with the replacement of aluminum street light poles with Fiberglas ones. Combining street lights with traffic signal poles will attempt to improve intersections’ lustrous look.

The area’s traffic situation should become remedied if the proposed six changes in street directions prove worthwhile.

The 24th Street East Roadway, offering a one-way northbound flow, will become two-way, as will Ritner Street between the 24th Street passages, which exists as a one-way westbound option, according to the plan. The 2200 block of Ritner Street, a one-way westbound opportunity, will become a one-way eastbound choice.

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