In April, Rachel Hall was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident on Diamond Street near Park Avenue. A block north from where the incident occurred, an intersection is without one of its two stop signs.
Before the sign was reported missing on the southeastern part of the intersection, it was seen leaning to the right after a truck backed into it, said members of Makkah Masjid—a mosque that lies across from where the sign used to be. Three weeks ago, it was stolen, they added.
Members of the mosque said a sign is needed because of the number of children, Temple students and community members who cross at this location.
The Philadelphia Streets Department told The Temple News last Thursday it was unaware the sign had been knocked down and that the pole was stolen. June Cantor, a spokesperson for the department, said the sign would be put back up in about 10 business days.
All regulatory traffic signs are at the top of the Philadelphia Streets Department’s priorities, the department said.
“We respond as quickly as we can, especially to what we deem emergencies,” said Richard Montanez, the chief traffic street and lighting engineer of the department.
After a notifying call is placed to 311, the city’s centralized non-emergency Contact Center, each department—street, gas, light and other utilities—has to mark the area. Due to the large amount of daily traffic issues, making sure the digging will not disrupt another utility takes three days to coordinate, Montanez said.
“The utilities [companies] call in to the Contact Center and give the go-ahead, and it takes another day to write the work order and stage the work groups,” he said.
Montanez added due to the high volume of calls the department receives, getting to every job request takes time. Because of this, the process of rectifying a dangerous traffic situation takes a couple extra days, he said.
There are about 29,000 stop signs around the city of Philadelphia, Montanez said. He estimated there are about 50-60 “emergency” calls—calls related to regulatory traffic signs—every day.
Even though the sign is near two churches, a school and a Rite Aid, Montanez said this increased pedestrian traffic doesn’t speed the process of replacing the sign.
“One could cite the urban population surrounding every stop sign in Philadelphia,” he said.
But not all accidents are a result of removed and missing signs, Cantor said. She advised the public to be alert when crossing busy intersections in the city.
“As the tragedy at Park and Diamond illustrates, even when the engineering solution is in place, safety involves good behavior on the part of the traveling public,” she said.
Montanez said the department’s work is ineffective if problem areas aren’t reported, and encourages bystanders to pay attention for any issues they may encounter.
“When an error is seen, call 311 and the problem will be corrected as quickly as possible,” he said.
Lila Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.