(Above: Councilman Patrick Dowd, Senator Jim Ferlo, PHCA president Terry Doloughty, and Polish Hill homeowner Evan Clark.)
On Friday October 28, the PHCA met with Senator Jim Ferlo, Councilman Patrick Dowd, and representatives from PennDot to look at a section of Bigelow Boulevard. During heavy rains or snow runoff, water pours over the retaining wall near the public stairs leading from Harding up to the bus stop on Bigelow. Flooding at this spot has damaged a home on Harding Street below, owned by Evan Clark.
The flooding occurs because the road, in being repaved again and again over the years, is now higher than the small drain at this site. There isn’t a gutter on the road to direct the water, so the excess floods the sidewalk and washes over the wall onto the home below. The City has already installed a section of solid metal fence above the home (seen just to the right of the stairs in the photo below), which has helped somewhat.
Another issue that was discussed during the meeting is that building owners along this stretch recently received letters telling them that they are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks on Bigelow. These sidewalks are about 20 feet above their properties, on the other side of a wall owned by the City. The consensus seemed to be that the City may actually be responsible for the sidewalks, since they abut City property (the wall), not private.
I’s rare to get so many public officials together for an on-site meeting such as this. After the tragic flooding deaths in Highland Park in August, there is more awareness about the issues relating to storm water control. And Bigelow Boulevard, which is a state road, has already been identified as one that will need to be overhauled at some point in the future.
Many people are not aware that Bigelow runs through Polish Hill from the Bloomfield Bridge to Frank Curto Park. (the border of Polish Hill is two blocks above the boulevard, on Ridgeway Street). The Polish Hill Strategic Plan, which is nearly completed, includes Bigelow Boulevard as an area to be addressed. Issues such as speeding, road conditions, sidewalks overgrown with weeds and brush, and the ever-increasing number of billboards are all concerns. Traffic turning down into Polish Hill tends to stay at a higher speed through our narrow streets. Solving these problems is complicated by the fact that this is a state road, and that Lamar owns a lot of the property on which they have billboards.