SEPTA looks at extending rail service to King of Prussia

July 16, 2013 2:44:30 PM PDT
SEPTA held a meeting in Norristown Tuesday to consider expanding its rail service to King of Prussia.

So what about it? What if the Norristown High Speed Line, which runs slightly to the east of King of Prussia, took a turn to the west, its stainless steel cars zipping into the heart of King of Prussia, bypassing that town's well-known traffic congestion?

"I am not sure where you would actually put it," said Erin Vose of Schwenksville, Pa., "because we have enough construction going on. But anything that would help the traffic would be great."

The thinking is that the rail cars might run on elevated tracks above Route 202 or along a utility easement or old rail line - or a combination of all of all three.

SEPTA discussed the many branch line options at Tuesday's public event.

A future rail line might service the Valley Forge Convention Center and Casino, as well as nearby office buildings and the town's best-known employer, the mall.

"We have over 4,000 patrons, passengers, a day who actually take SEPTA bus service to the mall to work," said SEPTA's Director of Strategic Planning Byron Comati.

Overall, 56,000 people work in the King of Prussia area. Many rely on buses, which must navigate crowded roads.

For workers coming from as far away as Philadelphia, the idea of a direct rail connection is intriguing.

"I think that would be a great idea, actually, because most of the people who come out here work in or around the mall. So I think it would be much more efficient and cut down on traffic," said Gideon Fikire of University City.

The formal part of the meeting was set for between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tuesday.

If the project were approved, it's on a 10-year timeline and no money has yet been set aside for it.

Planners are optimistic, but they concede that people have been talking about a western SEPTA rail line in the area for years. It's never happened, and rail projects are generally very expensive. Ballpark estimates range from $300-$500 million.


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