Northeast Times

Renovation on the rails

Loc­al politi­cians are work­ing to en­sure SEPTA‚Äôs long-planned re­pair pro­jects are still full steam ahead.

SEPTA’s Holmes­burg Junc­tion Sta­tion could use some tender lov­ing care.

The sta­tion, loc­ated on Rhawn Street just west of State Road, sees a little more than 1,000 pas­sen­gers each week­day. That num­ber would grow if there was an in­crease in avail­able park­ing. There are a mere 37 spots in the lot, with com­muters park­ing all along nearby streets. And there are no sur­veil­lance cam­er­as in the lot.

In ad­di­tion, the plat­forms are not ac­cess­ible, ac­cord­ing to fed­er­al Amer­ic­ans with Dis­ab­il­it­ies Act stand­ards.

Also, the build­ing is rather small and gets es­pe­cially crowded when it rains.

Many of SEPTA’s 150 rail sta­tions were con­struc­ted in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

“Most are in a state of dis­repair,” said SEPTA gen­er­al man­ager Joseph Ca­sey.

Ca­sey also has con­cern for the 300 bridges owned by SEPTA. Sev­enty of them are more than 100 years old.

“We need to re­pair and re­place them now,” he said.

Last week, Ca­sey joined state Sen. Mike Stack and state Reps. Mike McGee­han and Tony Payton dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at the Holmes­burg sta­tion.

SEPTA has a $5 bil­lion back­log of pro­jects that it says need to be com­pleted to bring its in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­it­ies in­to a state of re­pair.

Last Au­gust, Gov. Tom Corbett’s Trans­port­a­tion Fund­ing Ad­vis­ory Com­mis­sion re­leased its find­ings. The re­com­mend­a­tions in­cluded in­creas­ing fuel taxes and vehicle re­gis­tra­tion and driver’s li­cense fees.

Corbett has been hes­it­ant to make the pub­lic pay more for trans­port­a­tion fund­ing. His ad­min­is­tra­tion in­dic­ated last month that he would an­nounce more de­tails on the is­sue dur­ing his an­nu­al budget ad­dress, which was giv­en on Tues­day.

Trans­port­a­tion ad­voc­ates are hop­ing the gov­ernor de­liv­ers more money for high­ways, bridges and pub­lic trans­it. They are not hold­ing their breath for any as­sist­ance from the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, since Con­gress is loath to raise fees or taxes in an elec­tion year. The fed­er­al stim­u­lus money ear­marked for trans­port­a­tion pro­jects has been used.

Ac­cord­ing to a Dec. 11, 2011 re­port by PennDOT, there are 4,890 bridges in the state — in­clud­ing 85 in Phil­adelphia — that are struc­tur­ally de­fi­cient.

“That’s a fancy way of say­ing ‘un­safe,’ ” Stack said.

Stack un­der­stands the chal­lenges of a tough eco­nomy, but he was hop­ing to hear Corbett men­tion the word “in­vest­ment” in his re­marks and see the gov­ernor fol­low up by mak­ing trans­port­a­tion a budget pri­or­ity.

“Our trans­port­a­tion sys­tem is fall­ing apart,” he said.

Stack wants the gov­ernor to act im­me­di­ately, point­ing to safety con­cerns.

“In­vest in in­fra­struc­ture now, be­fore it’s too late,” he said.

McGee­han, Demo­crat­ic chair­man of the House Trans­port­a­tion Com­mit­tee, said Phil­adelphia needs first-class trans­port­a­tion in­fra­struc­ture to be a first-class city.

“We have the greatest in­fra­struc­ture in Pennsylvania, so we have the greatest in­fra­struc­ture needs,” he said.

The news con­fer­ence also at­trac­ted rep­res­ent­at­ives of Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation, Laborers Loc­al Uni­on 57 and the James J. An­der­son Con­struc­tion Co.

The uni­on and con­struc­tion com­pany said trans­port­a­tion pro­jects would bring much-needed jobs to the area. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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