Source, Philly Voice, Marielle Mondon
This month the Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed King of Prussia Rail Project was released, giving the public a chance to comment on the potential rail line online and during open house presentations throughout November.
If seen to completion, the rail project will extend the Norristown High-Speed Line (NHSL) all the way to the King of Prussia. As it stands now, the line extends from 69th Street Terminal to Norristown Transportation Center. The only current public transit option to take riders to the King of Prussia mall, for example, is a bus transfer.
Supporters of the SEPTA extension argue the rail could help cut down congested highway travel, attract new transit riders and tourists, and make the region more livable.
“The King of Prussia Rail Project will evaluate various alternatives for a new rail connection between the existing NHSL and destinations in the King of Prussia,” the KOP rail site reads.
“SEPTA invites you to participate in the project development process and provide input.”
Upper Merion residents began petitioning against such a rail last year, their backlash largely centered on complaints about noise and pollution. Some also worry the project’s expenses – capital costs range from $1 billion to $1.2 billion, plus multimillion-dollar annual operating and maintenance costs – would outweigh its benefits.
However, a 2015 report showed some of the economic benefits of the rail extension, including bringing more jobs to the area. Additionally, the extended service could be a cohesive fit for the ongoing expansions to the region, including the ever-growing King of Prussia Town Center, which aims to replicate the livability (and walkability) of a downtown, outdoor shopping area.
With this month’s release of the DEIS, skeptics and supporters alike are offered further details about the rail project, including conceptual renderings of the rail.