Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

Street sweeping pilot program launches in 6 Philly neighborhoods

April 16, 2019 - 7:34 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Street sweepers rolled through a Philadelphia residential neighborhood on Tuesday for the first time in more than 10 years. The pilot program restores a practice that was cut from the city budget during the 2008 recession.

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Mayor Kenney and other city officials were present to watch the work get started in Kingsessing, one of the six neighborhoods chosen because they scored highest on a measure the city calls a "litter index". The index rates the amount of trash visible on the street from 1-4.

"Hopefully, this nice spring day and this new project will motivate people to take better care of their neighborhoods," Kenney said. 

An earlier revival attempt famously failed in South Philadelphia because residents didn't want to move their cars on street sweeping days, so this program employs laborers with blowers and brooms to push trash into the middle of the street where mechanical sweepers can reach it. 

"I'm glad to be a part of it, I think it's a great initiative and I'm glad my community was picked to be one of the neighborhoods," said Loraine Thomas. 

She beamed as she watched the crew go to work, but political activist Dave Brindley was concerned on her behalf.

"We're very concerned about the noise, the dust and all the debris that's going to be kicked up into the air," he said. 

Managing director Brian Abernathy says he expects that to improve as the pilot progresses. 

"Anytime you have a first cleaning, it's going to be worse but we can't just leave our sidewalks dirty." 

The $500,000 pilot is also being run in parts of West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Kensington, Strawberry Mansion and Logan.