Making streets safer shouldn’t be an enormous chore, planners say

A community group in West Philly’s Spruce Hill neighborhood came to Nate Hommel last fall with a deceptively simple request: Could he help them make it safer for schoolchildren and families to cross the street?

Hommel, the University City District’s director of planning and design, knew from experience that getting even minor changes to a street layout in Philadelphia could be a lengthy, expensive, and bureaucratically complex process. 

But the spot they were focused on, 43rd and Spruce, is close to a public school and is “one of the most dangerous intersections” in the area, he said. So he decided he’d give it a go. 

“I promised the neighborhood group, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get it done in a couple of weeks,’” he said during a recent presentation on the project, drawing laughs from his audience. “And six months later, we think we’re there.”

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