SEPTA’s Wissahickon train station on track for an upgrade

SEPTA’s Wissahickon Regional Rail station will get a significant facelift in 2013.

At a recent Wissahickon Interested Citizen’s Association meeting, SEPTA representatives announced that they would be fulfilling over a dozen community-based requests for cosmetic and structural upgrades to the station, which is located at the intersection of Ridge Avenue and Osborn Street.

Ed Wallace, deputy director of station operations and customer service in SEPTA’s Engineering Department, announced to a surprised membership that he would be able to meet almost all of their wishes for the station.

While not a part of SEPTA’s ongoing capital improvement projects, Wallace said the resources necessary to complete the work – funding and labor – would both be allocated from “in-house,” and slated to go into effect during the summer construction season.

New shelter, bike race installations and improved fencing

Asked to fix and extend the roof by WICA’s membership, Wallace had three words: “Yes and yes.”

The canopy would be widened on the inbound side, and open portions of the canopy would be filled to shelter an increasing number of riders at the station. Wallace also expressed a willingness to demolish an existing four-foot high wall on the outbound platform.

A new shelter for the inbound platform is also planned. Envisioned to be three and 2/3-sided, it will be located on parking spaces once maintained for PhillyCarShare.

Both the station and adjacent fencing would be repainted, and new lighted signs identifying the Wissahickon stop would be installed, as would bike racks be installed along both sides of the station. Scrub trees and weeds would be cleared near the wall, but Wallace said that some of the brush serves as a barrier to keep people away from a nearby precipice.

Wallace was unable to commit SEPTA resources to clearing out nearby land belonging to Tommy Gunn’s restaurant as it is private property.

Some topics would require further investigation.

A request for planted trees along neighboring Rochelle Avenue would require additional consultation: greening proponent TreePhilly would need to provide the trees, and the Philadelphia Water Department would need to approve of the plan, as a recently-installed water main is in close proximity to the proposed area for planting.

Wallace said the desire for a clearer public address system would require additional consideration as noise complaints have been registered with SEPTA in regard to the station. Explaining that SEPTA typically places speakers at 20 foot intervals in order to keep them at a low volume, he offered that an acoustic anomaly at the station might be the root of the complaints.

WICA’s request for a mural or mosaic on the wall of the outbound side would require the participation of community members and the city’s Mural Arts Program, but Wallace predicted there would be little opposition from SEPTA.

“I don’t think we’ve ever turned one down,” said Wallace.

‘We thought we’d give you everything you wanted’ 

At the meeting, some residents expressed concerns about the state of security mirrors mounted inside the tunnel that runs beneath the station. In response, Wallace said that the mirrors are the subjects of “constant vandalism” and they would continue to repair and replace them as needed.

All in all, response at the meeting was entirely favorable to SEPTA’s comprehensive plan to upgrade their station.

“I’m stunned,” said Chip Roller, vice-president of WICA. “I can’t write anymore.”

At the close of their presentation, SEPTA’s representatives reaffirmed their willingness to oblige.

“We thought we’d give you everything you wanted,” said Wallace.

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