SEPTA has received a $10 million grant that will go toward building an additional track from the Woodbourne station in Middletown to Trenton, officials confirmed Tuesday.
The federal Department of Transportation awarded the grant to separate SEPTA’s passenger service and CSX freight service on a 6-mile stretch of the West Trenton Line, according to SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch. There are SEPTA commuter stops on that stretch of the line at the Woodbourne Road and the Yardley stations.
“We’re thrilled to get the funding. The entire project will cost $38 million and that will be divided up between SEPTA and CSX — just how much needs to be worked out,” he said late Tuesday. “We will get whatever extra funding we need for the project out of our capital budget.”
The good news for Bucks County commuters who use that line is that congestion caused by the shared tracks should be alleviated — and that will speed up service, Busch said.
“Basically, we’re going to add a track for SEPTA trains. Currently, we share a track with CSX and that backs up the trains, which wastes time,” Busch said.
SEPTA estimates the project will generate more than $75 million for the five-county Philadelphia area and support more than 540 jobs. The transit agency did not elaborate.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA, said he’s pleased with the funding, which will allow SEPTA to achieve greater efficiency.
“This project will have a huge positive impact on the everyday lives of those commuting and traveling to Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania,” Casey said. “By prioritizing transit vehicles and making improvements to railways, this program will make Southeastern Pennsylvania an even more attractive place to live, work and visit.”
The grant came from the federal transportation department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which funds projects that will create jobs and have a significant impact on a metropolitan area, said Casey spokeswoman April Mellody.
Busch said no time frame has been set for construction and many additional details will be released in coming weeks.
Bucks Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, R-8, will hold a press conference Wednesday morning at the Woodbourne station to discuss the project. He’ll be accompanied by SEPTA Chairman Pat Deon and SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey.
“The federal funds awarded to this project will allow SEPTA to construct its own stretch of track in the area, separating the two lines and allowing both SEPTA and CSX to improve their service,” Fitzpatrick said. “The project benefits travelers, businesses and the region by increasing connectivity and allowing for station upgrades.”
George Mattar, 215-949-4165; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mattarmuses