Philadelphia street sweep set to expand after pandemic delay, but won’t deliver on Kenney’s promise

Mayor Jim Kenney began his second term last January with a promise to extend street sweeping to all neighborhoods in Philadelphia by 2023. Then the pandemic struck.

Now the administration is resuming plans to expand the program – but it won’t be city-wide by the end of the mayor’s term in 2023. The administration blames the pandemic for failing to do so. campaign promise.

“The 18-month global pandemic and significant financial deficits have delayed this deployment,” city spokeswoman Joy Huertas said.

Resuming citywide street sweeping was one of Kenney’s campaign promises when he first ran for mayor in 2015. He launched a pilot sweep program in 2019, and some of these routes resumed this spring. The street service plans to announce a new expansion this summer.

Details have yet to be released, but the city’s five-year spending plan approved last month includes $ 62 million for street sweeping.

Here’s what you need to know.

After an interruption in 2020, the sweeping of neighborhoods resumed in April. The city’s sweeping season generally runs from April to November.

The streets department “intermittently” sweeps three of the six pilot routes that operated in 2019, as well as 26 routes in trade corridors, department spokeswoman Keisha McCarty-Skelton said.

Current neighborhood routes can be found in Kensington, South Philadelphia, and Strawberry Mansion.

The city could launch an expanded pilot program by the end of the summer, said Crystal Jacobs, spokesperson for the streets department.

“The ministry is determining the most effective and feasible ways to expand the program now that funding has been restored,” Jacobs said.

Kenney said in his April budget speech that the expansion “will focus on black and brown communities who are often hardest hit by illegal landfills.”

Yes, the cars will need to be relocated for the expanded sweep program. Kenney cautioned residents about this in his budget speech – as he did before the pandemic.

But not everyone will need to move their car on street sweeping days.

READ MORE: “If you don’t want to move your car, too bad,” says Kenney (as of January 2020)

McCarty-Skelton said “some of the routes” will involve parking restrictions. The department will use alternative parking, a system in which cars must travel only on one side of the street at a time.

“The city’s densely populated neighborhoods present challenges when relocating vehicles,” said McCarty-Skelton. “Therefore, another parking lot on the street will be selected based on the size and density of each block. “

The leaf blowers the city deployed in 2019 – to move trash without forcing residents to move cars – are here to stay. McCarty-Skelton said they will not be used on all routes.

“They are an effective tool for cleaning debris from sidewalks and in small streets that cannot accommodate brooms of any size,” she said.

The 2019 pilot program relied on leaf blowers to move trash and debris from cars to the middle of the street, where a sweeper truck picked it up.

This approach drew criticism from some, who said it simply throws dust and dirt into the air. But the city’s survey of residents who lived in the pilot neighborhoods found that 92% of residents supported the use of backpack blowers. This survey also found that 91% of residents were willing to move cars to help sweeper trucks access curbside garbage.

The city purchased new equipment last year for an expanded sweeping program.

This equipment includes power sweepers – large and small to suit different streets – backpack leaf blowers, sidewalk sweepers and push brooms.

McCarty-Skelton said the city made the purchases before the pandemic stopped its plans.

The large pilot program only began in 2019, shortly before Kenney’s primary elections for a second term.

Philadelphia had a more robust sweeping program, but it was canceled in the early 2000s. Politicians have long blamed parking issues and residents’ resistance to moving cars for the city’s lack of sweeping.

READ MORE: As Philadelphia prepares for street sweeping, questions remain about parking policy (as of February 2020)

Since then, Philadelphia has been the only major city in the United States that does not have a city-wide street sweeping program.

Kenney promised in his inaugural address in January 2020 that he would change that by the end of his second term.

He told reporters after the dedication ceremony that if people move cars in New York City, they can move cars in Philadelphia.

“If you don’t want to move your car,” he said, “difficult.”