SEPTA released its 2010 Capital Budget last week. Lots of interesting things in there, including this nuggest on page 67:
Route 15 Turnback — This project provides for the construction of a trolley turnback along SEPTA’s Trolley Route 15 at Frankford Avenue. This new routing will allow eastbound trolley service to continue through to the Market-Frankford Subway Elevated Line during PennDOT’s reconstruction of Interstate I-95, which is scheduled to commence in the spring of 2010. This turnback will become a permanent feature of the trolley line. The turnback will be constructed along Frankford Avenue from Girard Avenue to Delaware Avenue. The project will provide for new track and overhead wire; and traffic signal improvements at Girard and Delaware Avenues. This project will commence in the fall of 2009.
This will be the first expansion of trolley and lightrail since SEPTA acquired the PTC in 1968. And why is SEPTA expanding the Route 15 trolley six blocks?
To serve the proposed SugarHouse Casino.
I’m generally opposed to casinos in my town. And I’m really opposed to SEPTA spending spare resources expanding transit just for them. I can think of dozens of better expansion projects (Roosevelt Boulevard bus rapid transit? Schuylkill Valley Metro? BSL to the Navy Yard?) that should be prioritized over taking the trolley down to the casino.
By the way, the PennDOT expansion of I-95 that’s mentioned above is to provide the casino with its own on-ramp from the interstate. The construction of this ramp will apparently affect the location of the 15’s current turnback.
No specific cost breakdown is provided. The expansion is part of a group of four system improvement programs that together have a price tag of $66.2 million through 2021.
I hope SugarHouse is at least paying for this expansion out of their own very flush pockets. But even if they were paying for it themselves, this is SEPTA time and energy that’s being diverted from other worthwhile projects.