SEPTA budget woes will translate into summer detours for some riders

SEPTA says it has a $5 billion backlog of infrastructure repair projects.  Problem is, it doesn’t have the money.

This is forcing SEPTA to make some tough decisions.

First up: the Norristown high-speed rail line.

It carries about 2,400 riders per day between 69th street in Philadelphia and downtown Norristown. But starting this summer, thanks to a deteriorating bridge over the Schuylkill River and a lack of capital funding to fix it, the high speed line is in trouble.

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SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch says the bridge is safe now.  But “when we get into next summer, warmer temperatures are going to cause the tracks to expand and pull free of the steel spikes in the rotten wood ties,” said Busch, “and that would make the bridge unsafe for operations,” said Busch.

SEPTA says it would cost approximately $30 million and four months to completely restore the bridge. Busch says if the state does not come though with funding, the bridge would be closed indefinitely.

While it’s down, riders will have to get off the train, board a bus for a trip over the river, then get back on a different train to continue their trip.

Busch says this inconvenience may just be the start.

“We have a number of bridges that are 100 years old or older that need repairs, need replacing,” he said, “and we do need to be able to get out and fix those bridges just to keep the system in a state of good repair.”

Although ridership is at a 23-year high, SEPTA’s capital budget is at a 15-year low.

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