Source, The Times Herald, Valerie Arkoosh
Following five years of detailed analysis and community input, the KOPRail project is moving out of the planning phase and into design. This project, which will add a 5 mile spur from the Norristown High Speed Rail line out to King of Prussia, will be transformative for businesses, residents, and commuters throughout the region. Not only will this project provide construction jobs but, once built, KOPRail will help realize the shared vision for growth that is at the center of the county’s comprehensive plan – Montco 2040: A Shared Vision. This project meets the goals of the 2040 plan to connect communities, provide sustainable options for transportation, and grow the vibrancy of the region’s economy.
Recently, SEPTA’s board and the entire Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission board – including representatives from all five Southeastern Pennsylvania counties and four southern New Jersey counties along with multiple state agency representatives, took a collective step forward with the adoption of the preferred route for the new rail. This vote followed the evaluation of 30 potential routes – taking into consideration the concerns of many citizens in Upper Merion Township and numerous environmental impacts. As Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners, I stood with homeowners in their backyards and listened to concerns about a new rail line next to their property. Hearing these issues and working closely with SEPTA’s planners, we shifted the alignment of the route away from residential areas. We chose an alignment with the least amount of property and visual impacts for residents, while still achieving the benefits of the project.
King of Prussia has evolved into a cutting edge multi-faceted destination with office, retail, and tourism destinations boasting 28,000 residents, 60,000 daily jobs, the nation’s largest mall, one of our country’s most important historic Revolutionary War sites, and more than 4,000 companies. This project will connect these destinations—linking the region’s three largest job centers: Center City, University City, and King of Prussia.
Driving from King of Prussia to City Hall regularly takes almost 70 minutes, while the same trip on an express KOP Rail train will take less than 40 minutes. The Norristown High Speed Line will be much more frequent – and reliable – than the existing bus routes that sit in the traffic on I-76 each day. And it’s not just city residents who save time. Commuters and residents from Norristown and its neighbor, Bridgeport, currently have to endure a 38-minute bus ride to go 4½ miles to the King of Prussia Mall. KOP Rail will cut that down to 15 minutes.
At the end of the day, this project is about people. Think of the Villanova student who gets a spring-semester internship at Arkema. Think of the family in Rosemont who wants to spend a Saturday in December doing their holiday shopping together. Think of the homeowner in Radnor who chooses to buy a house near the Garrett Hill Station. Think of the developer scouting out sites in Norristown to build new condominiums. Think of the senior citizen in Upper Merion living at 251 DeKalb who has a doctor’s appointment at Bryn Mawr Hospital. The KOP Rail project gives transportation choices and a real alternative to driving to each and every one of these folks – and tens of thousands like them – to improve their job opportunities and go about their daily routines.
KOPRail deserves the support of Montgomery County residents and businesses as well as the support of our neighbors across the region. It meets a whole host of goals we have laid out for our county, including more transportation choices for our residents, improved transportation access to our businesses, and protection of our environment. We know where we want to go, and the KOP Rail project will help take us there.