New traffic islands on North Broad Street are some of the first additions students and staff have seen on Main Campus this fall. The islands make up the foundation for a project to add lighting stretching from Spring Garden Street to Glenwood Avenue.
The work represents a continuation of the North Broad Lighting Project. However, the intentions of the project include more than just lighting.
“It is streetscape enhancement to help improve the public realm,” said Jeremy Thomas, Philadelphia’s deputy director of development services.
The idea is to make the corridor itself more inviting, Thomas added.
“Sometimes North Broad can divide neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
“This could change that.”
Funding for the project comes from a mix of public sources with most of the dollars from the city and the commonwealth and a small amount from federal appropriations.
Avenue of the Arts Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on Broad Street’s economic growth, provides the vision and leads the implementation of the project.
“It is designed to unify the neighborhood,” said Paul Beidemen, president and CEO of Avenue of the Arts. “It’s about improving the entire area.”
The project plans erect new lights in the middle of North Broad Street and plant new trees along the avenue’s sidewalks.
“There will be 46 new light masts and something like 300 trees,” Beidemen said. “Several masts will be installed by the end of the year but I don’t know if they’ll be in the Temple vicinity by then or not.”
Tony Depaul & Son, a highway construction company from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, is the construction contractor for the project. Project manager Kyle Stump, who oversees the work, said he considers the Temple schedule when planning jobs.
“We will do work on other parts of Broad Street when heavy student traffic is expected,” Stump said. “Move-in day [was] one of those times. Ultimately we have to consider that [students] are often walking while looking down at their iPhones and not paying attention.”
However, the sidewalk landscaping portion of the project is scheduled to be completed during the school year.
“Planting season is from mid-October through November,” Stump said. “There will be another time in the spring as well.”
Stump said the landscaping will be installed on both the street-side and the building-side of the sidewalks. Street-side work should allow for a fenced-off walk-by path. The building-side work will require the walk to be closed.
“Moving the materials from the building to the street presents a danger [for passerby],” Stump said. “But we will not be doing work on both sides of the street at the same time.”
In those cases, pedestrians will be required to cross the street or walk around the corner.
Students interviewed said they are generally not bothered by the planned work itself. But some wonder why the city and state are spending the money on the project.
“It takes a lot more than lighting to bring the community together,” said Sofiya Sydoryak, a junior kinesiology major. “Spend that money on public schools. There are a million things in Philadelphia and North Philly in particular to spend money on.”
Sydoryak does not see any safety benefit either.
“I never feel like I’m in any danger here,” Sydoryak said. “There are plenty of police around and it’s already well lit.”
Morgan Brokenborough, a freshman anthropology major, said she finds the idea of new lighting strange.
“Does it really need more light?” Brokenborough said. “We were told [Main Campus] was one of the brightest spots around already.”
But Dave Gerson, a senior business marketing major, said he sees the positives of the project. Gerson, who describes himself as “the biggest Temple fan you’ll ever meet,” is excited for the end result.
“It’s better safety for the university,” Gerson said. “Especially for intoxicated people late at night [and] other people not paying attention. It will help drivers too.”
Work on the project is scheduled to continue through the school year and to be completed next summer.
Robert Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.