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SEPTA Narrows Down Possible King of Prussia Rail Routes

Culled from a list of 16 contenders, only four routes are now under consideration for a proposed extension of the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) to the King of Prussia Mall, SEPTA officials announced at a public meeting in King of Prussia Monday night.

What ended up the narrowing the field was the routes' potential impact on road congestion and the surrounding environment, SEPTA manager of long-range planning Elizabeth Smith said. Besides avoiding stream paths as much as possible, the four remaining options feature tracks on elevated platforms (similar to New York's AirTrain) for their entire lengths to avoid the need for street-level gates and lights that would slow down road traffic.

The four routes (click each map for a high-resolution version):

1. Along PECO transmission lines: 5 stations

SOURCE: SEPTA

Pros: Shorter length (4.5 miles), cheaper to build.

Cons: Future business development and usage severely limited on the stretch along PECO land.

The route may instead run along First Avenue between the two stations in King of Prussia Business Park to further avoid stream paths and reduce track length.


2. Along PECO lines, Pa. Turnpike: 5 stations

SOURCE: SEPTA

Pros: Shorter length (4.2 miles), cheaper to build.

Cons: Future business development and usage severely limited on the stretch along PECO land.

The route may instead run along First Avenue between the two stations in King of Prussia Business Park to further avoid stream paths and reduce track length.


3. Along PECO lines, Pa. Turnpike, N. Gulph Road: 7 Stations

SOURCE: SEPTA

Pros: More convenient to Valley Forge National Park and the proposed Village at Valley Forge mixed residential-retail development that includes Wegman's which opened in 2012.

Cons: Longer length (5.1 miles), more expensive to build. Future business development and usage severely limited on the stretch along PECO land. 


4. Along 202, Pa. Turnpike, N. Gulph Road: 8 Stations

SOURCE: SEPTA

Pros: More convenient to retail and residential areas on 202, as well as Valley Forge National Park and the proposed Village at Valley Forge mixed residential-retail development that includes Wegman's which opened in 2012.

Cons: Longer length (5.1 miles), more expensive to build. Construction may add to congestion on 202. 


What's next: SEPTA will research the four routes more intensely, make further refinements, and report its progress at a public meeting in the spring/early summer. Next fall, a single preferred route will be announced, and public feedback will be collected before the Federal Transit Administration decides on the route around the end of 2015. The project is expected to take at least 8-9 more years. Current funding will only cover the current planning and research phase and part of the engineering design phase, SEPTA's Elizabeth Smith said. For more information see kingofprussiarail.com.

Sterling Chen / The Philadelphia Inquirer

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