Is There a Solution to Philly’s Traffic Woes?

May 28th, 2019 by Wapner Newman

Traffic congestion in Philly is so bad that the American Transportation Research Institute ranked the Schuylkill Expressway-Vine Street Expressway in their 2019 list of “Top 100 Truck Bottlenecks” in the nation. During rush hour, ATRI says, average speeds there dropped 5.88% from 2018 to 2019.

Traffic backups are annoying and bad for your health, and they can also lead to accidents. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), there are 400 to 500 crashes on I-76 every year. Many of these crashes involved serious injury, such as whiplash, neck injuries, or paralysis, and 83 of them resulted in death.

Why so many traffic problems?

There are several reasons for Philly’s increased traffic problems, including:

  • Growing population. Population growth and growth of the economy and employment brings an increase in number of vehicles. And while Philly has a wonderful mass transit system and some people walk or bike to work, many still depend on their cars, especially those commuting from the suburbs. In addition, there is now a significant employment base in the suburbs, so some people who live in Philadelphia are commuting out of the city
  • Geographical issues. The heart of the Schuylkill Expressway runs between a rock ridge on one side and a rail line or the river on the other, so there is little room for expansion to accommodate increased numbers of vehicles.  The city was built before cars existed, and roads are squeezed into historic, colonial regions.
  • Unrealistic expectations. In the 1950s, I-76 was projected to serve 35,000 cars a day, but by 1970, an average of more than 80,000 cars were using I-76 each day. Now, PennDOT counts 130,000 drivers daily in Montgomery County and as many as 215,000 through Philadelphia.

Solutions to traffic problems

Solutions to Philly’s traffic problems have been hard to come by.

Here are some suggestions and attempts being made:

  • Improve traffic enforcement in the city. Online retail has led to an increase in deliveries. This means more trucks block travel lanes, as truck drivers often park illegally while making deliveries.
  • Improve public transportation and make it more efficient to entice people out of cars. While the time it takes to drive between Broad Street and 23rdStreet on Chestnut, Sansom, or Walnut Street increased by 10 percent to 20 percent between 2013 to 2017, public transportation was even worse, with trips taking 25 percent to 40 percent longer by bus. The city is reviewing overhauls by reducing the number of bus stops, giving buses dedicated lanes, and installing traffic lights that prioritize buses to help speed-up public transit.
  • Eliminate parking on some streets. Turn parking lanes into turning lanes and eliminate other parking areas to create loading zones and pickup points for Uber and Lyft.
  • Coordinate utility work and repaving projects to prevent blocking streets.
  • Utilize civilian traffic enforcement to give tickets and free-up police.
  • Centralize control over transportation decisions, and expand the role of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) for enforcement and planning.

What if you are in an accident?

Accidents in Philadelphia traffic may be caused by factors such as pedestrians clogging streets and blocking turning lanes, bicycles and motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, and cars trying beat the lights. The most common crash is a rear-end collision. Pennsylvania law says drivers have a duty to remain at a safe and reasonable distance behind another vehicle, but in heavy traffic, this is not always possible.

if you have been a crash victim and are pursuing a lawsuit or making a claim under the traditional “full tort” insurance, or if you have “limited tort” but have suffered a serious injury, you may receive compensation for both economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those which are tangible, such as medical and hospital bills, and non-economic damages cover losses like loss of enjoyment of life, physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish.