High-Speed Rail May Bring New Station to Philly

Amtrak is considering where to build stations in Philadelphia for high-speed rail. One of the options is a new station in Market East, an underdeveloped part of downtown. Leadership sees the project as a potential catalyst for new building.
August 19, 2012, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Amtrak officials will hold public meetings on alternatives for high-speed rail stations in Philadelphia this week. One alternative would see the city's historic neoclassical 30th Street Station left out of the mix, in favor of a new downtown station on Market Street, east of City Hall, reports Paul Nussbaum. Officials seem to prefer constructing a new station both to avoid "speed-killing curves" along the existing 30th Street Station alignment and to stimulate development in the Market East section of downtown.

30th Street Station boosters feel the historic station, which opened in 1933 and was "touted by Trains Magazine last year as 'America's Finest Railroad Station,'" is still a preferable option. "It's cheaper, more aesthetic, and it's the best station in America. It just needs respect," said Scott Maits, vice president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers.

According to Nussbaum, planners estimate "The cost of a new station in Center City, another new station at Philadelphia International Airport, and a 10- to 12-mile tunnel linking the two and continuing north of Center City would be at least $3 billion."

The potential to catalyze development in Market East is seen as a worthwhile investment by supporters. Robert Yaro, University of Pennsylvania professor and president of the Regional Plan Association in New York City, "said a Market East high-speed rail station would be a 'transformational investment,' attracting new development to the neighborhood."

"Market East could start to pull its weight in the Center City economy," Yaro said.

Thanks to Stuart Andreason

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Published on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 in The Philadelphia Inquirer
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