Philadelphia might be on the road to sweeping its Filthadelphia nickname under the rug.
City officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney, announced the launch Tuesday of a mechanical street cleaning pilot program, which will target six neighborhoods stretching from Southwest Philadelphia to Kensington.
The pilot, running weekly from April through November, will include mechanical-broom cleaning as well as backpack and hand-held blowers, officials said.
Residents will be encouraged, but not required, to move their vehicles, Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams said at a news conference.
“We understand residents are challenged with moving their vehicles in areas that are densely populated," Williams said. "Some residential areas are tight, and finding parking spots can be challenging.”
The neighborhoods targeted for the program are:
“Watching our city get dumped on day after day seriously burns me up,” Kenney said in a statement. “It is the reason why I have fought to bring back a residential mechanical sweeping program."
Nic Esposito, head of the city’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet, announced the program this winter on WHYY’s Radio Times.
The Streets Department will conduct a “follow-up index” after the pilot.
Philadelphia is one of the only large cities without a residential street sweeping program, though until budget cuts about a decade ago, every city block was swept weekly. Resurrecting such a service would cost $5.2 million annually as well as $12 million in equipment costs, The Inquirer reported last February.
The estimated cost of additional personnel to implement the pilot will be around $425,000 for the remaining fiscal year, according to the city, while four mechanical brooms will cost $280,000 each.
Complaints that the program would mean needing to move cars in neighborhoods where parking is at a premium previously gave officials pause on implementing large-scale street sweeping, though a 2017 survey pointed to police, potholes, and persistent litter issues as top concerns for Philadelphia residents.