The historic Route 15 trolleys will be missing from the river wards straight through Christmas Eve.
And with construction scheduled for the Girard Avenue interchange with Interstate 95, the green-and-cream neighborhood icons will likely be detoured from Richmond Street for several years.
SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said buses replaced the trolleys starting Oct. 30 due to track replacement in West Philadelphia.
They are scheduled to return Dec. 24, although weather could impact the construction schedule.
Busch said the trolleys will be using the newly constructed Frankford Avenue loop — a section of track that redirects the trolley at the SugarHouse casino on Delaware Avenue — but that there is no date set for when that change will take place.
The loop was put in place earlier this year to prepare for construction on a section of the track that takes the trolley under I-95 before it heads north on Richmond Street.
PennDOT is scheduled to replace that section of the tracks and much of Richmond Street during an ongoing I-95 widening project, and Richmond Street is expected to be without the trolley for several years.
Busch said SEPTA will start using the Frankford Avenue loop when PennDOT closes the Richmond Street section.
PennDOT released a statement last week saying that construction was tentatively set to begin Nov. 1, so when the trolleys do return around Christmas, they’ll likely be using the Frankford Avenue loop.
“The use of the loop and shuttling on that portion will start in conjunction with PennDOT’s work on the Girard/I-95 interchange,” Busch said last week. “We’ll basically be following the construction schedule PennDOT has for that project. We will return full trolley service to East Girard/Richmond as soon as the PennDOT project at the interchange is completed.”
Route 15 covers all of Girard Avenue starting at 63rd Street in Haddington and ends at Richmond and Westmoreland streets in Port Richmond.
PennDOT said last week that the next phase of improvements for the Girard interchange would start in early November and take approximately four years to complete.
According to PennDOT’s news release, that phase will include:
• Reconstruction and widening of Richmond Street between Aramingo Avenue and Cumberland Street;
• Reconstruction and widening of Richmond Street between Cumberland and Ann streets, and relocation of the roadway to an area east of the interstate;
• Replacement of two Conrail bridges over Richmond Street near Lehigh Avenue with four separate structures with new Conrail tracks;
ull; Reconstruction of the Girard Avenue bridge over the northbound Aramingo Avenue spur; construction will only close one lane at a time;
ull; Extensive utility relocations along Richmond Street and adjacent streets to the west;
ull; Intersection improvements along Richmond Street at Girard Avenue, Cumberland Street, Sergeant Street, Huntingdon Street, Lehigh Avenue, Somerset Street, Cambria Street and Ann Street;
ull; Installation of “Intelligent Transportation Systems” devices — dynamic message signs, traffic cameras, travel-time sensors — along arterial routes adjacent to I-95 between the Broad Street and Betsy Ross Bridge interchanges.
During construction, PennDOT will maintain one lane in each direction along Richmond Street through 2013. Richmond Street will be detoured between Lehigh Avenue and Ann Street for construction of the new Contrail overpasses in 2014 and 2015.
Girard Avenue heading toward Delaware Avenue will remain open through 2013 between Fletcher and Richmond streets for reconstruction of the bridge over Aramingo Avenue at the interchange. Southbound traffic will be detoured as the bridge is rebuilt.
Travel on I-95 will not be significantly affected during the construction.
More information about the work schedule and daily updates can be found at www.95revive.com.••
Reporter Brian Rademaekers can be reached at 215-354-3039 or firstname.lastname@example.org