SEPTA takes step toward extending rail service in Delaware County

Posted: November 15, 2012

SEPTA took a modest step forward Thursday on its long-delayed plans to restore regional rail service to Wawa in Delaware County.

The SEPTA board voted to acquire about five acres by the former Franklin Mint headquarters along U.S. 1 in Middletown Township, to build a parking garage and access road for a new passenger station there.

But a lack of money continues to hold up construction of the garage, station and the three-mile extension of the rail line from Elwyn to Wawa. The project is currently estimated to cost about $90 million.

The growing population in western Delaware County and southern Chester County and a shortage of parking for existing passengers on the Media-Elwyn line has spurred SEPTA's desire to extend the line to Wawa.

Service was "temporarily suspended" there in 1986, when SEPTA truncated the old Pennsylvania Railroad route that used to go as far as West Chester.

On Thursday, the SEPTA board approved spending up to $282,788 for 4.86 acres owned by real-estate developer Wolfson Verrichia Group Inc., of Plymouth Meeting. The deal is still in negotiation, and the board on Thursday authorized SEPTA officials to acquire the property rights by condemnation if the developer declines to sell.

"We've had numerous discussions, and it's our intention to amicably acquire it," said SEPTA real estate director Gerald M. Maier.

About 3.5 acres would be used to build a 600-space parking garage, and 1.3 acres would be used for an access road to connect with U.S. 1, Maier said.

Wolfson Verrichia is one of the developers involved in efforts to redevelop the sprawling Franklin Mint site that used to be the headquarters of the company that made and marketed coins, dolls, model cars, and other collectibles.

The Wawa extension is one of many SEPTA projects put on hold by a lack of money.

SEPTA's capital budget, which pays for construction and vehicles, is $303 million this year, about $110 million less than three years ago. State funding has dropped because the federal government rejected Pennsylvania's plans to convert Interstate 80 to a toll road to raise transportation funds.


Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com.

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