Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Navy yard subway link eyed for SEPTA

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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is urging a 1.5-mile extension of SEPTA's Broad Street subway line to the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the nation's oldest such facility, now redeveloped as an office center and residential neighborhood.

Casey sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration's Brigid Hynes-Cherin, regional administrator for FTA Region 3, urging her to discuss the potential project with SEPTA, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC), and local labor organizations, local media report.

In the letter to Hynes-Cherin, Casey said many Navy Yard employees rely on a shuttle bus that PIDC uses to ferry them to other SEPTA stops. "As the Navy Yard continues to grow, we need to start planning for a long-term solution that will provide commuters with direct access to the Navy Yard as part of SEPTA's subway system," Casey said.

In 2007 feasibility study by PIDC and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) covering Philadelphia and nearby Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties, estimated the cost of a subway extension to be $370 million. Regional rail advocates suggest to Railway Age the price likely would be somewhat higher today, but generally agree with the 2007 study's assertion that the extension would improve the line's economic performance.

SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey says the agency, beleaguered until this week by a lack of identifiable capital funding, has not ignored the proposal. "While SEPTA's priority remains addressing our $5 billion backlog of critical infrastructure projects, we also participate in a responsible long-range planning process that evaluates the future transit needs of the region," Casey told local media.