PATCO rail project costs skyrocket

A PATCO High Speed Line train pulls into the Westmont Station during during morning rush hour May 27, 2008, as ridership on buses, trains and subways is increasing along with escalating gasoline prices (no ids on commuters). (Tom Gralish / Inquirer) EDITORS NOTE: RIDERSHIP25gTG 102938 Tue 5/27/2008 Location: Suburban Station, Patco stations, 30th Street Station (septa not amtrak pls) Story: JRIDE28 With gas prices at unprecedented levels, ridership on buses, trains and subways is increasing, as commuters shift from cars to transit. But even as mass transit agencies such as SEPTA and NJ Transit count their new-found revenue, they're also facing a major new expense: their own fuel costs are skyrocketing. SEPTA's ridership is up 5 percent from last year, with 13 million more trips this fiscal year. The increase on regional rail trains is even greater - 2.8 million more trips, an 11 percent increase. NJ Transit is setting new ridership records for the sixth consecutive year, reporting more than 900,000 passenger trips per weekday on its trains, buses and light rail vehicles. For the first three months of 2008, ridership was up 3.5 percent over the same period in 2007. Train ridership was up more, 5.5 percent, and the River Line that runs between Camden and Trenton had 10.3 percent more weekday riders than last year. Reporter: Nussbaum, Paul Reporter's Ext.: 4587 cell: 215-313-3182
A PATCO High Speed Line train pulls into the Westmont Station during during morning rush hour May 27, 2008, as ridership on buses, trains and subways is increasing along with escalating gasoline prices (no ids on commuters). (Tom Gralish / Inquirer) EDITORS NOTE: RIDERSHIP25gTG 102938 Tue 5/27/2008 Location: Suburban Station, Patco stations, 30th Street Station (septa not amtrak pls) Story: JRIDE28 With gas prices at unprecedented levels, ridership on buses, trains and subways is increasing, as commuters shift from cars to transit. But even as mass transit agencies such as SEPTA and NJ Transit count their new-found revenue, they're also facing a major new expense: their own fuel costs are skyrocketing. SEPTA's ridership is up 5 percent from last year, with 13 million more trips this fiscal year. The increase on regional rail trains is even greater - 2.8 million more trips, an 11 percent increase. NJ Transit is setting new ridership records for the sixth consecutive year, reporting more than 900,000 passenger trips per weekday on its trains, buses and light rail vehicles. For the first three months of 2008, ridership was up 3.5 percent over the same period in 2007. Train ridership was up more, 5.5 percent, and the River Line that runs between Camden and Trenton had 10.3 percent more weekday riders than last year. Reporter: Nussbaum, Paul Reporter's Ext.: 4587 cell: 215-313-3182 (INQUIRER)
Posted: July 12, 2013

Rebuilding the PATCO commuter train line over the Ben Franklin Bridge will cost $102.8 million, 47 percent more than expected, Delaware River Port Authority officials said Wednesday.

But the higher price tag won't mean higher bridge tolls or an increase in the DRPA's five-year spending plan, because other recent construction projects, including the Walt Whitman Bridge redecking, were cheaper than planned.

The PATCO project was approved Wednesday by DRPA board committees. If the full DRPA board approves it next week, construction will begin in August.

The project to overhaul the bridge railroad, which first opened in 1936, will replace tracks, ties, power and signal systems, and train control and communication systems, make repairs to supporting structures, and apply three coats of new paint.

The work is expected to take about 27 months. PATCO trains will continue to operate during construction.

The winning $102.8 million construction bid from two North Jersey companies was far above DRPA's engineering estimate of $69.8 million and its budgeted amount of $73 million.

DRPA planners miscalculated the costs of electrical work, painting, and temporary work platforms, chief engineer Mike Venuto said Wednesday.

The joint bid from Railroad Construction Co. of Paterson and Iron Bridge Constructors of North Brunswick was the lowest received. Three other bids ranged from $114 million to $144 million.

DRPA's expenses are paid by motorists' tolls on the agency's four bridges between Philadelphia and South Jersey: the Franklin, Whitman, Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry spans.

In other business, a board committee approved a plan to spend $362,879 to install 35 security cameras and call boxes on the Ben Franklin Bridge walkways to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing between Philadelphia and Camden.


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

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