Thursday, August 15, 2013

More upgrades to 30th Street Station under way

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Amtrak will continue work this summer and fall on several upgrades at its historic Philadelphia 30th Street Station on the Northeast Corridor “to improve the passenger experience, tend to the long-term infrastructure needs of the 80-year-old building, and improve pedestrian mobility in and around the facility.” The projects represent about a $35 million investment.

30th Street Station, originally opened in 1933 by the Pennsylvania Railroad, is the third busiest station in the Amtrak system. It served more than four million passengers in FY 2012, with connections to SEPTA and New Jersey Transit commuter rail services and other local transportation.

Following are summaries of the major initiatives Amtrak is undertaking as components of the station renovation project:

West Plaza renovation

Since Fall 2012, crews have been working on a $30 million Amtrak-funded reconstruction project along the west side of 30th Street Station that features a redesigned pedestrian plaza and reinforced basement structure. The new plaza, scheduled for completion by Thanksgiving, will improve vehicle traffic and pedestrian flow around the station, enhance lighting for better security and visibility, provide safer walking and driving conditions and expand public parking. Below-ground work on the parking deck and basement will continue through 2014 to fortify the infrastructure and improve parking conditions.

Facade restoration

Amtrak begins Phase I of a multi-million dollar restoration of the exterior facade of 30th Street Station with installation of a temporary sidewalk canopy system that will be erected around the sides of the building. The canopy will keep pedestrians safe and provide a weather-proof area under which to access the station while funding for Phase II (the remainder of the facade restoration) is identified. Construction of the canopy will begin this month and be paid for with approximately $2 million of Amtrak funds.

Elevator replacement

Passenger elevators that connect the train platforms with the main concourse will be replaced, along with elevators that service the employee office towers in the upper floors of the building. Some equipment, dating to the 1930s, is beyond the scope of repair and needs to be replaced. This is a $3 million Amtrak-funded project with work scheduled to begin this fall.

“30th Street Station is an iconic fixture in Philadelphia,” said Stephen Gardner, Amtrak vice president of Northeast Corridor infrastructure and investment development. “As stewards of this National Historic Landmark, we are committed to maintaining its status as a first-class facility for passengers and further integrating the station into the vital University City neighborhood.”

The Chicago architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White designed the station, originally known as Pennsylvania Station–30th Street in accord with the naming style of other PRR stations. Its design was influenced by the PRR’s massive New York-Washington electrification project, which allowed trains to pass beneath the station without exposing passengers to steam engine exhaust. The station had a number of innovative features, including a pneumatic tube system, an electronic intercom, and a reinforced roof with space for small aircraft to land, and contained a mortuary, a chapel, and more than 3,000 square feet of hospital space. Construction began in 1927, and the station opened in 1933, shortly after the peak of the PRR's expansion. The vast waiting room is faced with marble and the coffered ceiling is painted gold, red, and cream. The building’s exterior has columned porte-cocheres on both the west and east facade, and exhibits elements of both classical and modern architectural styles.