by KYW City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council today gave final approval to a massive “wall wrap” billboard on one side of a building that faces drivers coming into town over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge — even though that vote could endanger federal highway funding for the city.
Before the vote, Stephanie Kindt of the anti-blight group “SCRUB” spoke out in opposition to the wall wrap that would go up on an office building near 6th and Callowhill Streets. Kindt told councilmembers that federal highway dollars would be at risk.
“Closely examine what you’re putting at risk by passing legislation that would allow signage this close to federal highways of this size, at this location,” she warned the lawmakers.
Nevertheless, Council members approved the plan by a 12-5 vote, despite having just received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation confirming that the wall wrap could endanger federal funding.
“If there’s validity to it, and it would jeopardize funds, I believe that Council will take the appropriate action — if the mayor decides to veto the bill — and support the veto,” said Councilman Frank DiCicco, who sponsored the bill and in whose district the billboard would be located. “But to get a letter from the executive director in the (PennDOT) district an hour before the vote, for me, doesn’t carry much weight.”
The bill now goes to the mayor, who is expected to veto it and send it back to Council.