DVRPC approves $99.7 million in state funds, King of Prussia Rail analysis

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) voted today to approve the region’s first influx of Act 89 state transportation funding dollars – an addition of more than $99.7 million for fiscal year 2014. The funds will be added to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and bring $20.7 million to three existing Philadelphia projects. 

In November, the Pennsylvania legislature approved Act 89, a comprehensive state transportation funding package that is expected to provide $2.3 billion over the course of five years. While PennDOT is still sorting out Act 89 project details, DVRPC took early action on approving Act 89 funds for 12 projects and six studies in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

“This is good news,” said Elizabeth Schoonmaker, manager of DVRPC’s Office of Capital Programming. 

The three Philadelphia projects impacted by today’s action are the Holme Avenue Bridges over Roosevelt Boulevard, Spring Garden Bridge over the Schuylkill River and JFK Boulevard bridges over 21st, 22nd and 23rd streets. 

The Holme Avenue project will receive $11,670,000 and will replace two existing bridges that carry Holme Avenue over Roosevelt Boulevard with a single, two-span bridge. The current traffic circle interchange between Holme Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard will be replaced with a more conventional, signalized interchange, and intersection improvements are proposed for each approach to the bridge. 

This Northeast Philadelphia project is slated to start this summer and be completed in late 2016. No work will take place along the U.S. Route 1 express lanes beneath Holme Avenue, but some work will take place in the median between the north and southbound lanes.

$8,525,000 will go toward rehabilitating the Spring Garden Street bridge over the Schuylkill River. Built in 1966, the bridge is structurally deficient and has a 29-ton weight restriction. Work on this structure will begin this summer and be completed in the fall of 2015. During that time one lane of traffic in each direction and one sidewalk will remain open.

“This is a really important project,” Schoonmaker said of the Spring Garden Bridge work, noting that it will play a critical role in providing traffic alternatives during a future undertaking to rebuild seven bridges over the I-676 Expressway. 

Another $500,000 will fund right-of-way and utility work related to a project that will replace or rehabilitate the bridges carrying JFK Boulevard over 21st, 22nd and 23rd streets. Construction for that project will begin in early 2015 and end in early 2016.

Federal funding approved for King of Prussia Rail Extension Analysis 

The DVRPC board also approved an agreement that will allow DVRPC staff to provide additional technical support to SEPTA on the King of Prussia Rail extension‘s environmental impact statement.

Already underway, the King of Prussia Rail extension is a project to build a spur off of the Norristown High Speed Line, into King of Prussia. To-date DVRPC’s staff has prepared a ridership forecasting model, analyzed 12 potential routes, consulted with the Federal Transit Administration and provided technical support. The additional work approved by the DVRPC board today will allow DVRPC staff to provide further analysis of at-grade route alternatives, potential stations and more. 

SEPTA will cover the cost of this work with $191,690. Byron Comati, SEPTA’s director of strategic planning and analysis, made it clear that this funding comes from a federal earmark and is only appropriate for this specific King of Prussia rail extension project. It is not funding that could be used on SEPTA’s other priority or state of good repair projects. 

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