Light Rail Planned for Pennsport

A plan for a light-rail system is in the works to connect Center City with the waterfront and may one day include stops at the Navy Yard and sports complex.

By Amanda L. Snyder
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 15, 2010

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This artist rendering depicts what Pier 70 may look like with the addition of a light rail in the median along Columbus Boulevard that is expected to provide access to the waterfront and various Pennsport stores.

Pennsport residents soon will have a direct link to Center City, as well as access along the riverfront, via a light rail system.

Officials said the $364 to $514 million project will stretch east of City Hall on Market Street to the Delaware River and span Girard Avenue to Pier 70, near Snyder Avenue, on Columbus Boulevard. Other local stops will include South, Christian and Reed streets.

“If things went well — extremely well — the project maybe can be completed in five to six years,” Port Authority Transit Corp.’s (PATCO) General Manager Robert A. Box said. “Then it’s anywhere beyond that depending on obstacles or challenges we may run into along the way.”

The rail line was narrowed down from numerous options through outreach meetings with parties such as SEPTA, PATCO, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and City officials, in addition to input from residents at open houses dating back to 2003. The system is expected to alleviate traffic along Columbus in preparation for future development of the area, Box said.

“It’s something that the DRPA has been involved with over the years in a number of efforts, trying to develop the waterfront,” Box said. “Every time we were involved and the effort failed, the bigger issue was parking and traffic.”

The plan initially was to have extended from SEPTA’s Subway-Surface Line, which ends at 13th and Juniper streets in Center City, on Market toward Columbus and over I-95. However, the line now will be an above-ground light rail on Market.

“We looked at a number of alternatives,” Box said. “Anything we looked at trying to continue any of the underground facilities turned into major engineering issues.”

To read the entire article, check out South Philly Review.

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