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Margaret-Orthodox station rehabilitation project community meeting recap

The details of an estimated $25 million, three-year rehabilitation of the Margaret-Orthodox elevated-train SEPTA station began to emerge last night at the first community meeting held by the project management team.

The project, which focuses on bringing the second-to-last eastbound stop into American’s with Disabilities Act compliance, isn’t scheduled to begin until early 2011 and remains in the design phase. The funding for the project has not yet been secured.

“SEPTA means business, but we care about what the community wants and we want to hear from you,” Mauricio Silva, the project manager in charge of engineering, maintenance and construction, said last night inside the meeting room of Frankford Group Ministries, a 20-foot ceiling topped with stained glass keeping a watchful eye.

After residents filed into the Ministries building located at Orthodox and Griscom streets, they were met by at least eight representatives of SEPTA, nearly surpassing the dozen residents in attendance, a total that Silva called “surprising,” most of whom are regulars at the Frankford Civic Association meetings.

Proposed Schedule:

While the project team repeatedly warned of how difficult it is to give firm deadlines this far in advance, Project Manager Mauricio Silva did pinpoint the planned beginning at early 2011 and shared their proposed phases, subject to the change of a construction team.

  • Phase One: Six months
  • Phase Two: Eight months
  • Phase Three: 10 months
  • Phase Four: Six months

The team resisted projecting too far into the future, but at this phasing schedule, the project would be completed before fall 2013.

The brisk 15-minute presentation led by Silva included some rough plans displayed in a slide show and highlighted the general scope of the project, now scheduled for a four-phase, two-and-a-half-month time line, though Silva suggested that could easily be nearer to three years.

The project will add three new elevators, new train and bus platforms and new sidewalks. The station, which will be generally repainted and repaired, will also get new lighting, a new communications system with security cameras and a new transformers enclosure to support the added power needed. Silva said $150,000 is being planned for an artistic element, which he said would be chosen with the help of neighborhood representatives.

The station will remain in service throughout the construction phase — though Silva warned of some temporary closures, delays, one-track usage or rerouting during nights and weekends — which will be accomplished by building a secondary entrance in the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Frankford Avenue and Arrott Street.

“Construction is not always pleasant,” said Silva, who also managed a portion of the decade-long West Philadelphia renovation of the Market-Frankford line. The 40th-street station has looked at similar elevator additions. “There will be noise and dust and frustration.”

Some residents raised concern about changing the lighting would create dark and more dangerous corners.

“We will not take off lights without replacing them,” Silva said.

Silva said that portions of Frankford Avenue may need to be closed intermittently, in addition to the portion of Oxford Avenue that nears the Margaret-Orthodox station.

“That’s why we’re starting this conversation a year in advance,” said Patricia Miller, SEPTA’s constituent relations coordinator. She said SEPTA representatives handed out fliers to El riders, talked to all the businesses that will be affected on Frankford Avenue and reached out to local legislators.

“We look forward to getting to know you over the next three years,” Miller said.

Below, SEPTA Project Manager Mauricio Silva discusses the likely service interruptions the rehabilitation could cause.

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