West Market St. has extra wide four lanes but it does not serve the needs of Philadelphians who reside and work in the downtown center.
As two of Philly’s most important city streets, West Market St. and JFK Boulevard in Center City are used by thousands of residents and workers as they bike and walk to and from their homes and office buildings via the City Hall, 30th St. Suburban Station and many retail shops.
Designed as “urban highways” years ago, they streets were made as wide as possible to enhance motor vehicle traffic; however today, these two streets are no longer serviceable to cater to the needs of the 21st century Center City of Philadelphia. On the 22nd of April, there was a proposal to transform the whole stretch of Market Street starting from Front to 63rd into more of a Main Thoroughfare. You will recall that section of East Market Street in Old City was included in the plan for Old City Vision 2026 conducted by RBA Group.
JFK Boulevard and West Market Street must be remake to serve all road users:
1. Wide as an Interstate. Located between 15th and 20th Streets, West JFK and W. Market do not appear like highways but they are as wide as highways. Market Street is 45 feet wide; as wide as the section of I-95 that passes through Philadelphia. The 54 feet width of JFK Boulevard is 6 feet wider than southbound Interstate 95.
2. Low volume of vehicles. As counted by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the car volume passing JFK Boulevard and W. Market is even less than the volume of cars carried on Chestnut and Walnut Streets. It is only about 18% of the number of cars carried on Interstate 95.
3. More crashes occurred from 2010-2014. For every 1000 motor vehicles passing on JFK/Market, there were 40 % more crashes than on Chestnut and Walnut Streets. Using the raw number basis, approximately 16% more crashes happened over that five year period on Market/JFK than Chestnut/Walnut.
Multiple benefits in calming traffic on JFK and W. Market Streets
1. Less speeding. Center City lane has 10 feet width that easily accommodate city busses and other commercial vehicles. Narrowing the width of narrowing JFK and W. Market lanes from14-12 feet to 10 feet will encourage motor vehicles to lower their speeds.
2. Reduce number of crashes so that here will be lesser incidence of injuries and deaths. This measure will minimize the number of over speeding vehicles, reduce the speed related crashes and followed by dropping numbers of injuries and fatalities.
3. More than a travel lane. When lanes are narrowed, the excess width of the road could be utilized as a parked-car protected bike lane, crossing distances are shortened and infrastructure for storm water would be improved. Parking on both sides of the street could remain.
4. Minimal impact on the streets’ capacity. Well within congestion guidelines, there will be a 54% reduction of JFK operating capacity and 38% reduction of Market Street capacity. Heavy congestion starts operating at levels around 75% capacity.
The transformation of JFK Boulevard and W. Market Street into complete streets will result in safer, more enjoyable environment for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. By consolidating traffic from 4 lanes to 3 right-sized lanes, there will be a reduction of over speeding. Road safety is increased and more opportunities provided to improve street environment for all commuters while adequate traffic flow is maintained. This is the best option to enhance city street life in Philadelphia’s core.
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