North Philly School Zones to Get Safety Improvements Due to Biden Policies

Children Crossing road sign in Philadelphia. (Photo: Franckreporter)

By Sean Kitchen

September 6, 2023

The City of Philadelphia recently announced that it received $25 million in federal funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to construct slow zones around six North Philadelphia schools.

Public safety projects surrounding six North Philadelphia grade schools received a $25 million funding boost last week thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The six “slow zone” projects aim to reduce traffic speeds by reducing speed limits, installing speed cushions, and providing traffic calming measures. The slow zone initiative is part of Philadelphia’s Vizion Zero goals to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries throughout the city.

“Thanks to the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act, school zones around six North Philadelphia schools will be safer for students, faculty and staff, and visitors alike,” said US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). “Students’ families will have greater peace of mind when they send their children to school each day. Faculty and staff will have safer and more efficient commutes. Because of the infrastructure law, we’re going to keep Philadelphia students safe and keep our communities moving.”

The slow zones will be built near the Julia de Burgos Elementary School, Kenderton Elementary School, KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy, Mary McLeod Bethune School, Pan-American Academy Charter School, and the Potter-Thomas School.

According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), from 2017 to 2021, there were 418 crashes around these schools, which resulted in 156 injuries and three fatalities.

According to the city, the slow zones will receive raised crosswalks, curb extensions at key community locations and hazardous crossings, redesigned signage for drivers going through the slow zones, and ramps that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Every student, their families, and school staff deserve safer ways to get to school,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The North Philadelphia School Zones Traffic Safety Project will reduce speeds, enhance the experiences of people walking, biking, rolling, and taking transit to school, and overall make neighborhood streets in North Philadelphia safer for all road users.”

The total cost of constructing the slow zones is estimated to be $29 million, with the majority of the expenses covered by the federal government through the US Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant.

More recently, the city of Philadelphia received a $3 million grant from PennDOT’s Multimodal Transportation Fund to finish the construction of a slow zone in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia.

“Improving safety and well-being for students is the School District of Philadelphia’s number one priority and working collaboratively to identify solutions is the best way to create safer neighborhoods,” said Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D., Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.


  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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