SEPTA details new Crum bridge, Elwyn line extension


In a proposed capital budget released Tuesday, SEPTA says it will design a replacement for the Crum Creek viaduct, the bridge that carries the Media/Elwyn regional rail line past the Swarthmore campus and over the Crum Creek, in 2014, and construct it between 2015 and 2017. The transit agency also released additional details about its plans to extend the local rail line three miles to Wawa, PA.

The proposed capital plan, entitled “Catching Up,” relies on billions in additional funding provided by Act 89, the politically contentious transportation funding bill that Republican Governor Tom Corbett signed into law in November. SEPTA had said it would have to shut down many of its regional rail and trolley networks over the coming years was additional funding not provided for critical capital projects.

Earlier in the semester the Phoenix reported that SEPTA planned to use some of the new funds to replace the 925-foot Crum Creek viaduct, which was built in the 1890s and is considered by the agency to be beyond its useful life. Estimates in past capital budgets had put the cost around $60 million. In the new plan, that figure is revised to $80.04 million.

The Wawa extension project, which the Phoenix also covered earlier in the semester, is expected to cost just over $127 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and end by 2020.

Other, smaller projects on the line are scheduled to begin construction this year, including $43.25 million in improvements to three other bridges and a new $23 million station with high-level platforms in Secane.

In total, the agency estimates its proposed 2015-2026 capital program at $6.8 billion. Major projects include purchasing hundreds of new buses, trolleys and railcars, rebuilding and expanding stations throughout the system, rebuilding aging bridges, and overhauling power substations for regional rail, subways and trolleys. The program includes funding for the implementation of a new, safer signal system for regional rail that would prevent accidents like December’s Metro-North derailment in the Bronx, which killed four people.

It also includes funding to complete the agency’s transition to a new payment system, as well as a new project for bringing real-time vehicle location information to transit and rail stations.

SEPTA has seen considerable ridership gains in recent years, and, according to the report, is studying three major system expansions: a rail line to King of Prussia serving King of Prussia Mall and Valley Forge National Historic Park, a subway extension to the redeveloped Philadelphia Navy Yard, and an extension of the Lansdale/Doylestown regional rail line north into Bucks County. Funding for those projects has not yet been identified.

SEPTA, the sixth largest agency of its kind in the country, spends more than $1.2 billion each year just to operate its system.

Revenues from fares are used to cover roughly 40 percent of operating costs and are not used for capital projects.

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