New phase of SEPTA "El" work begins

July 11, 2008 3:22:32 PM PDT
Commuters riding the Market-Frankford El are in for even more changes. There's a new round of construction beginning tonight. Work has been going on at 63rd Street station at 63rd and Market in West Philadelphia.

BUT - an extended closure goes into effect at 7.

The SEPTA project will force thousands of riders to make some adjustments this summer.

The 63rd & Market intersection is now the epicenter of SEPTA's $710 million Market-Frankford el line reconstruction project. The track and station overhaul stretches from 46th street to the Milbourne station just beyond 63rd street. Starting at 7 tonight, the intersection of 63rd & Market will be shut down to motorists & pedestrians for 9 days while crews rebuild the worn el platform that was demolished in recent weeks.

"It needs to close so we can do as much work as we possibly can rebuilding the guide way here as well as rebuilding the station. So there's no way possible we could do the intense work we need to do with traffic moving in both directions," said SEPTA's Frances Jones.

The intersection closure means hundreds if not thousands of motorists who use this major gateway between Philadelphia and the Upper Darby area will have to find alternate routes.

"It'll effect me because it will take me out of my way to get to 69th street. There might be a lot of car accidents," said commuter Angie Burchette.

Jaya Darlington had a tough time driving from Philadelphia to Delaware County when 63rd & Market closed for construction during a recent weekend. "We were trying to go visit my sister in Maryland. An hour to get out. And I live right around the corner on 59th street. An hour," she said.

During the 9 day shut down, the el trains will not run on Market between 46th & 69th Streets so commuters will have to rely on shuttle busses to travel from 40th to 69th Street. The shuttle buses will run along Walnut and on Chestnut streets. SEPTA authorities acknowledge there will be bottlenecks and delays. They hope 300 employees taking on ambassador positions will help make traveling easier.

"Just build in extra time so can arrive at your destination on time. And more than anything else, we just thank them for their patience as we rebuild the el."

This closed section will reopen July 21st. SEPTA will do the same thing again for 16 days in August. When the overhaul is completed next summer SEPTA promises state of the art tracks and stations that will be economic spur in West Philadelphia.