SEPTA plans major improvements on its Chestnut Hill East line

Several projects along SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill East regional rail line will move ahead in the coming months, most notably the long-awaited update of the 110-year-old Wayne Junction station.

In an interview with NewsWorks this week, officials from the transit agency detailed ongoing and future plans for station improvements and right-of-way work along the rail line that connects several key Northwest neighborhoods with the rest of the city.

By far the largest component will be a three-year, $33 million upgrade at Wayne Junction, which is currently out to bid, said Bob Lund, SEPTA’s senior director of capital construction.

The work will include new elevators and other features to bring the station into full Americans With Disabilities Act compliance, along with restoration of historic building features and rehabbing of the Germantown Headhouse. Also, tunnels and stairways from Wayne, Germantown and Windrim avenues will be restored, and new public-announcement system and benches will be installed. The Wayne Avenue Bridge will also get a fresh paint job.

“It’s essentially going to be a brand-new station,” Lund said, “but this is a historic site and this [work] will take that into consideration.”

The project, included as part of SEPTA’s $250 million borrowing plan approved in January, is currently out to bid and contracts are expected to be awarded in the fall, allowing the agency to use a $4 million competitive federal grant toward the project.

One interesting detail of the project will include raising the floors inside the station to the same height as the existing high-level outbound platform and a planned new high-level inbound platform, said Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA’s chief engineer.

“We noticed the windows were very high inside the station building, so we are just able to raise the floors,” he said. “We’re able to achieve what we’re looking for for our passengers and for the disabled, but I think that everyone will be happy with the historical preservation.”

First opened as a stop on the Reading Railroad in the 1880s, the Wayne Junction Station is a key hub for SEPTA riders, serving more than 190,000 riders on the five SEPTA regional rail lines, one trackless trolley and two bus routes converging there.

The station also serves as a key component to the Germantown and Nicetown Transit-Oriented Plan, a joint planning document created by SEPTA and area civic groups including the Nicetown CDC. It calls Wayne Junction “a central gateway” to the area and says it “should be a catalyst for economic development and street life in the area.”

Lund said Wayne Junction work would be phased, and the station would remain open at all times during the project.

Meanwhile, another $15 million in right-of-way work to repair track and install new train control switches will continue this summer, resulting in bus substitutions for Chestnut Hill East train passengers on several weekends: June 11-12, June 18-19, July 9-10 and July 16-17.

Elsewhere along the Chestnut Hill East line, $2 million worth of station improvement projects are ongoing. They include:

* Painting unroofed canopy structure at Chestnut Hill East Station;

* A new roof, station ID signs, painting and replacing railings at Gravers;

* New canopy roofing, painting of the bridge over Willow Grove Avenue, and new signs at Wyndmoor;

* At Mt. Airy, improvements will include painting the building and railings, signage improvements, new guard rails and handrails on outbound stairs along with sidewalk, curb and driveway repairs;

* For Sedgwick, two new shelters will be installed, along with new signs, guard rails and handrails, and painting of the bridge over Mt. Pleasant Avenue;

* At Stenton, the existing shelter will get new glass, the building will be repainted as will the bridge over Vernon Road. New signs, parking lot improvements and sidewalk repairs are also on tap;

* Station improvements at Washington Lane will include driveway modifications and curbing, new signs, repairing/replacing and painting railings and ornamental fencing, sealing off the under-

track tunnel, and painting the bridge over Washington Lane.

* At Germantown, work will include cleaning and painting concrete walls, canopy,

and railings; painting the bridge over Chelten Avenue, sidewalk repairs, new signage, and railing

replacements. The previously closed passenger tunnel has been sealed off, and the outbound parking lot will be reopened.

* Wister improvements include cleaning and painting the tunnel, replacing

the existing railings, along with new lighting, the reopening of the Ruff Street entrance and a mural painted by City Year workers.

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