City Ave. traffic chaos - Who's to blame?

July 30, 2008 8:50:26 PM PDT
The traffic trouble is over, but not until hours of frustration for thousands of motorists at one of the area's busiest intersections. How many people did it take to fix the traffic lights here? Only one.

And how long did it take for him to fix? Less than a half hour.

But why did it take the better part of the day to address a potential threat to public safety at a major intersection despite numerous calls to various agencies complaining about it. Well, wait until you hear.

For most of the day, the scene at City and Monument Avenues was chaotic, and potentially dangerous.

One woman in a wheelchair was having a tough time trying to get across. Her name is Margaret Schlack, and she tells us, "It took me 20 minutes to get across here when I was going out just to get the bus."

The intersection borders Philadelphia on one side and Lower Merion on the other. But despite calls in the morning to the city, the Streets Department, officials at Lower Merion, State Police and a police substation, which sits just 400 feet away, the lights remain this way all day.

Lower Merion and State Police told us it was the city's responsibility. At midday, the Streets Department told us they would send their traffic signal technicians, who did not arrive until 6:10pm. Similarly, police from the 19th District did not arrive to direct traffic until around 5pm.

What gives?

Lt. Frank Palumbo from the Philadelphia Police says, "There were multiple calls to police radio, police radio notified our municipal techs, and they never got around to it up until this point? The 19th didn't get it until about a half hour ago."

Finally, at 6:36pm, less than a half hour after his arrival, the traffic signal repairman got the lights working again.

So, what caused the communication breakdown? We called Doug Oliver at the mayor's press office who told us he didn't know, but would be looking into it tomorrow morning.

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