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Transportation

Potholes

Who do I call about potholes?  

City Street
Telephone
Dial 311 or 215-686-5560 or *FIX from your cell phone
Email

csstreets @phila.gov

Website

potholes.phila.gov

 

State Highway

Telephone

PennDOT Maintenance Hotline

1-800-FIX-ROAD (349-7623)

 

Map of State Highways

List of State Streets

 

Trolley Track Area

(Inside tracks and 18" on either side)

Telephone

SEPTA Customer Service

215-580-7852

More Information

http://www.septa.org

How does the Highway Unit decide which potholes should be repaired first?  

Potholes found on major highways, and potholes that are an immediate hazard to motorists or pedestrians, are given primary attention. Repair crews will fill all potholes encountered, and make safe any ditch that requires a repair in each grid section assigned. 
What can you do about a problem hole?  

The Highway Division of the Streets Department maintains over 2,525 miles of public city streets and 50 miles of State roads. However, 360 miles of streets within the city limits are actually state highways, maintained by PennDOT. There are also private streets within the city limits maintained by homeowner associations. Potholes between trolley and train tracks, or within 18 inches outside of the tracks, are maintained by SEPTA. 

You don't need to know who maintains it in order to report it. We're here to help. Call 311 or the Streets Department's Customer Service Unit at 215-686-5560

Snow

Why does the City not put salt on the roads before it snows?  

Putting salt on road before a snowfall wastes time and money, since the salt blows right off the road. Salt is most effective after the snow has accumulated about an inch and the temperature is 20° F/-6 C or higher. Under these conditions, salt and snow mix into a slush that can easily be cleared.
When will all roads be passable after a storm?  

Our goal is to make all roads passable as quickly as possible after a storm ends. The city's snow removal crews work around the clock until all conditions are safe for traveling. 
I sometimes see City trucks driving with their snowplows up when it's snowing. Why?  

There are several reasons plows don't always push snow. Trucks may be spreading salt and sand, or they may be out of sand and salt and headed back to refill. Or, they may be in route to their assigned area. Be assured, once it snows, City crews work around the clock until the roads are in good shape. 
How does the City decide which roads to clear first?  

Roads carrying the most traffic get top priority. Snow Emergency Routes and most primary roads are cleared first. Secondary roads with high traffic volumes also receive early snow-removal attention. 

Top priority roadways, or snow emergency routes, are highways designated by the City for immediate snow removal, so emergency vehicles can use them. Once the snow stops and the main roads are clear, residential streets will be salted and/or plowed. 

Why do snowplows block my driveway with snow when they clear the road?  

We are sorry for this inconvenience, but to make roads passable as quickly as possible, there is no way to avoid it. The City's snowplow operators push the snow off the roadway in smooth, continuous passes, and the snow ends up in gutters and on road shoulders, sometimes blocking driveways and small streets. To avoid double work, try to shovel snow from your driveway as you face the road. 
What is black ice?  

Black ice is a thin layer of transparent ice not always visible on the roadway. 
Do bridges freeze before road surfaces do?  

Yes, the air below bridges tends to cool the bridge faster than the ground below roadways. 
What is a safe distance to follow behind a plow truck?  

The safe distance between any two vehicles (the two-second rule) should be doubled during inclement weather. 
Why do trucks move so slowly while plowing and spreading anti-skid material?  

The driver must adjust his or her vehicle speed according to conditions. If traveling too fast, anti-skid materials will not stay on the road. Passing a snowplow can be extremely dangerous. There is never a safe time to pass, but if you must, do so with extreme caution. 
What is applied to slippery roads in winter?  

In preparation for snow, Streets Department crews apply a brine solution, which helps prevent icing. Salt, calcium chloride, anti-skid materials or a combination of these are applied during snow and ice removal operations. Salt and calcium chloride help to melt the snow or ice, but calcium chloride, which is very expensive, is only used when temperatures fall below 20°F. Anti-skid materials provide traction and are made of sand, fine stone, and washed cinders. The amount and kinds of material used are determined by the road surface and severity of the storm.
What roads is the City responsible for clearing?   

The Streets Department's Highway Division maintains a total of 2,525 miles of City and 50 State roads in Philadelphia. 
How does the City prepare for the snow and ice season?  

During the year, Streets Department employees prepare for snow removal by stockpiling tons of salt, sand, and chemicals at strategic locations. In addition, equipment is tested on dry runs, employees are given special training, snow routes are driven, and private individuals and companies with heavy equipment are contracted and placed on standby if needed to help with snow removal. 
When should residents and businesses begin removing the snow from the sidewalk?  

Within six hours of the end of a snowfall or freezing rain, you must clear a path at least 36 inches wide on your sidewalk, including curb cuts. Do not shovel or sweep the snow into the street. The penalty for violating this regulation can range from a minimum fine of $50 up to $300 for each violation. To report a sidewalk or curb cut that has not been cleared, residents may call the Streets Department Customer Affairs Unit at (215) 686-5560. For all City services dial, 3-1-1.

Traffic and Lighting

How can we request them for our block?  

Requests shall be made via a petition signed by 75% of the residents of the block. The requests should be sent to the elected Councilperson of the area.

How high are speed cushions? What are their dimensions?  

Speed Cushions are 3 to 4 inches high. They are 12 feet in length with a 4 foot long gentle incline, followed by a 4 foot flat top, and a gentle 4 feet long decline.

Do they create vibrations and damage my house foundation?  

No. Unlike removable rubber speed humps typically found in shopping centers, Speed Cushions are very rigid and are part of the roadway blacktop. They do not move or generate vibrations.

Do they make excessive noise when vehicles are traveling over them?   

Noise studies conducted in the field have not identified  instances where speed cushions significantly increase  noise  levels.  In  fact,  when compared to control locations, speed cushions appear to reduce noise associated with passing traffic since vehicles are travelling at a lower rate of speed.

How will the SEPTA transit vehicles be affected?  

SEPTA buses will not be delayed because their wheel gaps fit the cutouts allowing buses to travel unimpeded.

Will they damage my car?  

No. Speed Cushions are only 3 to 4 inches high and will not damage any car traveling at a reasonable rate of speed.

Do they delay emergency responders?  

No. Speed Cushions do not delay emergency vehicles like fire engines and ambulances because their wheel spacings fit into the cutouts allowing them to travel unimpeded.

What kind of speed reduction should the residents expect?  

Speed Cushions are known to effectively reduce speeds on streets on which they are installed down to 25 mph.

How do they help in reducing speeds?  

Speed Cushions are strategically placed so that passenger cars and other small vehicles are forced to go over them at slow speeds.

How do they differ from Speed Humps or Speed Tables?  

Speed Humps and Speed Tables span continuously from curb to curb. In contrast, Speed Cushions have narrow cutouts or ‘gaps’ to allow larger vehicles such as fire trucks and buses to travel around them. The gaps also allow the street to drain.

What are Speed Cushions?  

Speed Cushions are carefully shaped asphalt mounds that are placed and marked in a manner to compel drivers to slow down to 25 miles per hour when they ride over them.Speed Cushions are carefully shaped asphalt mounds that are placed and marked in a manner to compel drivers to slow down to 25 miles per hour when they ride over them.

I wish to contest the traffic/parking ticket I received. How do I get information on the existing regulations?  

Please write to:

Records Custodian Traffic Engineering

Municipal Services Building, Room 980

1401 J.F.K. Blvd.

Philadelphia, PA 19102

Describe what you wish to know. Include the location where the incident occurred and include a copy of the citation.

 

Mailing Address

Traffic Engineering Room 980 - MSB Customer Affairs Unit

1401 J.F.K. Blvd.

Philadelphia, PA 19102

Telephone

215-686-5560 or Dial *FIX on your cellular phone

Fax

215-686-5067

How can my child's school get flashing lights?  

The school principal should contact the Streets Department's Chief Traffic Engineer for an application. 
How do I get a traffic signal installed or changed(more green time, an arrow, etc)?  

Please write to the Streets Department's Chief Traffic Engineer (address listed in question #2). 

When a traffic signal is malfunctioning (turned, out, knockdown, etc), who do I contact?  

Call 3-1-1 or the Streets Department's Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560.
Who can I contact when I need to block the street and sidewalk?  

Contact the Streets Department's Highway Unit at 215-686-5500 or the Right of Way Unit at 215-686-5524 to start the permit process. You will need to explain why, for how long, and when. 
What can I do about parked cars blocking my driveway?  

Contact the 311 or the Streets Department's Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560 to request a Driveway Paint Permit. Provide your name and address. An application will be mailed to you. 
How can I prohibit trucks from parking on my residential street?  

Please write to the Streets Department's Chief Traffic Engineer (address listed in question #2). 
How do I temporarily prohibit parking for moving, work, delivery, etc?  

Contact the Streets Department's Right of Way Unit at 215-686-5525/5531 no later than 4 business days (96 hours) prior to your need. Requests made later than 4 business days will not be processed. There is a permit fee of $25.00 per 40 feet of space (40 feet equals two parking spaces). Requests for Moving trucks can be submitted via web at http://secure.phila.gov/streets/tnp/
How do I get residential permit parking?  

Contact the Philadelphia Parking Authority at 215-683-9729
Who can I contact when I need a Loading Zone for my business?  

Contact the Philadelphia Parking Authority at 215-683-9738
Who can I contact when I need a handicap parking space in front of my house?  

Contact the Philadelphia Parking Authority at 215-683-9735
Who can I contact when the white/yellow paint lines or crosswalks are missing/faded?  

Contact 311 or the Streets Department's Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560 for department related issues. 

How do I request to change the direction of traffic on my street?  

This request must start with City Council. Please contact your District Councilperson for the requirements. Upon receipt of the request from Council, the Streets Department's Traffic Division will investigate the effect on safety and circulation. 
Who can I contact for an All-Way Stop sign?  

Please write to the Chief Traffic Engineer in the Streets Department at:


Chief Traffic Engineer
Streets Department
Room 980
Municipal Services Building
1401 J.F.K. Blvd. 
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Your request will be acknowledged and a study will commence. We are obligated by the results of the study. 

Who can I contact when a traffic sign is missing, damaged, turned, etc?  

Please dial 311 or the Streets Department's Customer Affairs Unit at 215-686-5560 for department related issues.

 Signs for Limited Time Parking, Loading Zones, and Handicap Parking, should be referred to the Philadelphia Parking Authority (see questions 5, 6, and 7 below).

Streets Event Application Guide

What are reasons the Streets Department would deny a request for a street event, aside from an applicant not having the required number of signatures from neighbors?  

Street closures for block parties may impact mass transit, such as, trolley routes, trackless trolley routes, or multiple bus routes.  We also identify blocks on which there have been problems in the past such as Police activity or failure to abide by the terms and conditions of the permit.  Permit denials also occur when there are conflicts with construction. 

Are there particular streets in Philadelphia that can't be used for street events?  

Yes. Arterial streets cannot be closed for street events.

What are the major summer holidays block party applications are approved for?  

Click here to see approved Holidays

Is there a deadline for sending in a block party application to the Highway Division's Right of Way Unit?
  

Yes. A minimum advance notice of twenty-one (21) calendar days is necessary to obtain the approved permit in time to coordinate the closing of the street. There will be an increased fee of $45 if a block party request is made less than 21 days before an event.

Are procedures the same for religious events?  

Yes. 
When will I know when my application is approved?  

You should receive your block party permit within two (2) weeks prior to the event. If the permit is not received by that time, call 215-686-5500. 
Is there a fee for having a block party?
  

Yes. $25.00 per day per block. The fee must accompany your application. For security reasons, only checks or money orders made out to the "City of Philadelphia" can be accepted. 

Can the City provide me with barricades?  

No. The Police and Streets Departments do not provide barricades for a block party. It is recommended that the residents purchase yellow "caution" tape to block off the street, if needed. 
May I block my street off for the event?
  

Yes, but vehicles may not be used to block off the street since emergency vehicles may need to enter the street. 
Do I need petitions for "T" streets intersecting my block?
  

Yes. If there are any "T" streets, a petition for those blocks must also be included with your block party application. 
Do I need a signed petition to have block party?
  

Yes. There must be a signed petition for each date and each block. Signatures from at least 75% of the residents on the block must be on the petition. Only one signature per household will be accepted, and no photocopies of signatures will be accepted. 
Where can I go or who do I call for a block party application?
  

By Mail
To have the application mailed to you contact: 
Customer Affairs Unit (between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM) 
215-686-5560
In Person
To receive an application in person:
Streets Department's Right of Way Unit
Municipal Services Building, Room 940
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard 
Philadelphia, PA. 19102
215-685-5500 
Online
To download from the Streets Department's internet site click here.
What do I have to do to close the street to traffic for a block party?
  

Fill out and submit a block party application for approval.

Bicyclists

What are the most important laws that apply to me on my bicycle?  

1.    Bicycles are classified as vehicles in the Philadelphia Area, and are subject to similar laws as automobiles
2.   Stop for red lights and stop signs
3.    Yield to pedestrians
Play by the rules, ride responsibly, and be courteous
Do I really have to wear a helmet?  

Yes. Everyone should wear a helmet on every ride, no matter how short the trip is. Children under 12 years of age are required to wear a helmet, but adults are strongly encouraged to wear them whenever they ride. Wear a helmet with a Snell, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), or American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approval sticker inside the helmet or the box. The helmet should fit snugly and sit flat on your head without shifting and be secured with a chin strap. 
I am not sure the motorist sees me on the road. How can I be more visible?  

Wear bright colorful clothing, or even better, wear materials made of fluorescent neon, or day glow, during the day. At night, wear retrospective clothing and retrospective material on your helmet. Make yourself as visible to the motorist as possible. Many motorists are not looking for cyclists. During bad weather, dusk and night use both a bright front headlight and a red rear reflector or taillight. A front white light visible at least 500 feet to the front is required at night in Pennsylvania. Rear flashing red lights can supplement the rear reflector. 
How do I make a quick turn to avoid objects, such as cars coming towards me?  

To make a very sudden turn you must first momentarily steer towards the object you are trying to avoid, which makes you lean in the opposite direction (to keep your balance), then steer into the lean. Use your brakes before or after a turn, not during the turn, and bring your pedal up as you lean into the turn to prevent catching the pavement. This is another move that will take practice; try practicing at slower speeds. 
How do I avoid things like potholes without swerving into traffic?  

In traffic you want to steer quickly around an object. Just as you reach the object, steer to one side then quickly turn the other way to correct your balance while staying in as straight a line as possible. Try practicing this move on quiet streets until you feel comfortable. 
How do I handle my bike during a quick stop?  

Making a quick or an emergency stop can be tricky, because when you brake quickly your weight shifts forward and you could go over the handlebars. Learn which levers control your front and back brakes. Push your weight back as far as you can go while lowering your torso (hunker down and move back on your bike). At the same time apply your brakes, with more pressure applied to the front brake. If your rear wheel starts to skid, ease up on the front brake. 
How do I make turns and cross intersections?  

Most car/bike crashes occur at intersections. When turning right, move toward the right of the roadway and point to the right to indicate your turn. Look for other motorists making turns. When turning left, look for gaps before moving to the left or changing lanes. Use a hand signal to point to the left and make eye contact. If the traffic speed is too fast and congested for a left turn at the intersection, make a box left turn (as a pedestrian would cross an intersection.) Going straight, where possible, ride through intersections in the middle of a travel lane for added visibility. Do not veer to the right out of the motorist's sight.
What do I need to stay alert to and look for in traffic?  

Look out for road debris and gravel, broken roadway surface, sewer grates that catch bike tires, and railroad tracks. Always keep your eyes on the road and monitor the traffic behind with a mirror or occasional glance. Listen for cars approaching from the side or from behind. Don't follow too closely to vehicles (you may be in their blind spot and you can't see road problems ahead). Watch for cars turning into your path. Often motorists do not see a bicyclist or misjudge the speed of the bicyclist. Always be prepared to stop. Keep your hands on or close to the brakes. 
What do I need to know to ride safely in traffic?  

A bicycle is considered a vehicle, and a bicyclist is subject to almost all the same rules of the road as a motorist. Ride in a visible and predictable manner. Don't make motorists guess your next move. Always ride in the same direction as traffic. Riding against traffic is the cause of 20% of car-bike crashes. Be careful of parked car doors opening (ride at least 3 feet away from parked cars), road debris, and irregularities in the pavement. Don't swerve to the left without signaling, or weave around parked cars. When riding in traffic, maintain your speed. If your speed is slower than the traffic flow, move to the right edge of the through traffic lane. Ride as far to the right of traffic as is safe, unless:

1. you are traveling at or above the speed of traffic

2. there is insufficient lane width for the motorist to pass within the lane

3. road conditions are so poor as to require a whole lane to maneuver around obstacles

In these instances, it is better to ride in the middle of the right-hand lane. Doing this is a way of telling drivers that they must change lanes to safely pass. Signal in advance of turns and stops, make eye contact with motorists before turning into their path, and wave when  someone yields. Where you position yourself on the road will indicate to motorists whether you want to make a left or right turn or go straight through an intersection. When approaching pedestrians from behind or passing another cyclist, shout out your location in the roadway or path, such as, "on your left."
 
I haven't been on a bike in years. How should I practice before I get out in traffic?  

If you're not comfortable in traffic, practice your riding skills (turning, stopping, signaling, etc.) You will develop confidence with experience. Developconfidence and learn riding skills by practicing on quiet streets or empty parking lots.