Lincoln Drive, loaded with potholes and rampant speeding on its 25 mph, four-lane route winding through Northwest Philadelphia before connecting to the suburbs, is one of Philadelphia’s most-used roads, and also one of its most harrowing for out-of-towners to drive.
But now traffic on Lincoln Drive, also known as “Dead Man’s Gulch,” is going to get a bit stickier. New traffic detours are taking effect June 11 as part of a $12 million renovation project now underway that will last through the end of 2019.
The Lincoln Drive Restoration Project is set to accomplish numerous goals, according to the Streets Department. The badly battered road will get milled and resurfaced, the guide rail and median barrier will be replaced and drainage improvements will be made.
Additionally, a retaining wall north of Forbidden Drive will get a new architectural finish. Pedestrian upgrades including new ADA-friendly curb ramps, and some new asphalt paths near Lincoln Drive and Wissahickon Avenue between Lincoln Drive and Rittenhouse Street. There will also be new traffic signal masts and arms and a new sewer drain.
But to get all that work done, detours that have gradually been set up around Lincoln Drive will start going into effect soon.
Lincoln Drive from Ridge Avenue to Wayne Avenue have already been entirely closed to traffic nights from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. as part of the project. Motorists are directed to detour on Walnut Lane and Ridge Avenue.
Starting June 11, Lincoln from Wayne to Wissahickon Avenues will be converted into “temporary, single lane closures” due to construction during off-peak hours, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The city is trying to keep as many lanes as possible for rush hour drivers heading to and from Center City.
“For the majority of the project, two inbound lanes will be maintained for the morning peak hour traffic and two outbound lanes will be maintained during the evening peak hour traffic,” the Streets Department said.
The project is getting 80 percent of its funding from the federal government and 20 percent from city funds.
Does it do enough?
The Lincoln Drive restoration plan has attracted some criticism by urbanists who say it doesn’t go far enough and more should be done to slow traffic on a road that has seen seven severe accidents and four fatalities in the last five years.
“Repaving Lincoln Drive with no plan for serious design changes is like putting a Band-Aid on an open gash,” said Dena Driscoll, co-chair of 5th Square, a reform-minded Philly political action committee.
5th Square said the accident-prone road needs more significant changes — like going permanently down from four to two lanes to prevent excessive speeding and passing.