The closure is from Allens Lane and Emlen Street to Germantown Avenue and Cresheim Valley Drive.e is expected to remain closed from November 2021 through April 2022.
Starting November 8, Cresheim Valley Drive will be closed to traffic from Germantown Ave. to Emlen and Allens Lane for at least six months.
The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) will begin a large construction project to install new sewers along the portion of Cresheim Valley Drive between Navajo Street and Cresheim Road. PWD has stated that the work will require the complete closure of that portion of the drive, and it is anticipated to remain closed until April 2022.
Cresheim Valley Drive turns into Emlen Street, so the construction zone is technically from Cresheim Valley Drive and Navajo Street to Emlen and Cresheim Road.
Because there are no main roads to detour around the construction zone, a long detour will be required. Traffic coming into Chestnut Hill from the west side of Mt. Airy will be directed to instead take either Allens Lane or Mt. Pleasant Street all the way up to Germantown Avenue. Drivers will also be able to continue using McCallum Street to enter the neighborhood from the south, and on the northern end Stenton Avenue access will also not be affected.
There are no residences along the immediate section under construction. But people who live along the sections of Emlen Street and Cresheim Valley Drive that will need to close will still be able to use the road for local access, and trash removal and mail delivery will also continue during construction.
The Philadelphia Water Department and Councilwoman Cindy Bass held a joint community zoom meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 27, to answer questions about the closure.
Neighbors have concerns about the impact on the Houston Elementary School, which already backs up traffic on Allens Lane in the morning and afternoon during student drop-off and pick-up. There is no alternate spot to move this, since the other roads around the school are one-way and narrow, and feed back into the Lane.
Neighbors in the area spent the last two years with Allens Lane Bridge closed. Jane Century has vivid memories of cars driving the wrong way on her one-way street to navigate that closure. “I live in Mt Airy on the 7300 block of Bryan Street, which flanks the Houston School.,” she said. “After living without the use of the Allen Lane Bridge for two years, and seeing the aggressive driving against one-way streets then and now, neighbors here are quite concerned about the impact of this closure on pedestrian safety, particularly along the stretch of Allen Lane in front of Houston School.” She pointed out the delays on Germantown Ave. heading south as cars try to make a left-hand turn onto Mt. Airy Ave. at the red light there, and how this existing bottleneck will get worse. “Traffic back-ups on Germantown Avenue going south from Chestnut Hill to Mt. Airy in late afternoon are already extensive. I know many people who live in the suburbs north of Chestnut Hill, or who are coming from town, who will not discover this situation until they are in the midst of gridlock.”
PWD spokesman John DiGiulio said the sewer project had been postponed until the bridge project had been completed. Water Commissioner Randy E. Hayman added that “Our team explored several alternatives in doing this project. And we're taking a holistic approach to reduce the likelihood that future projects have to go through this corridor. The project has been designed to employ techniques that reduce the duration of construction to six months, rather than nine months in traditional practices.”
There are other routes into Chestnut Hill from that side of Mt. Airy, such as McCallum St. to Willow Grove Ave. Steve Moran, a representative from the Streets Department, added that the timing on lights will be adjusted to account for the heavier traffic. Drivers are being advised to start planning now.
The purpose of the project is to replace the sewer lines. The existing pipes were not designed to handle the level of waste passing through them, and frequently overflow, dumping increasing amounts of raw sewage into the water and the parkland. PWD's announcement says: "This project is necessary to protect local waterways, improve infrastructure and prevent sanitary sewer overflows into Cresheim Creek." In addition to installing a new sewer line, contractors will resurface the road, and install new curbs and guard rails.
Cindy Bass ended the meeting with a promise to hold more meetings to keep the community informed. The next one will be sometime at the end of November.
Maps and updates will be posted in the Local and on PWD’s website at water.phila.gov/projects/all/p41132/
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