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Casey, local elected officials celebrate SEPTA accessibility project

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey at the groundbreaking for a project to make SEPTA’s Broad Street Station fully accessible joined by State Reps. Danilo Burgos and Darisha Parker, state Sen. Sharif Street, Philadelphia City Councilmember Cindy Bass, SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards, and more. (Credit: John Cole / Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
June 17, 2024

PHILADELPHIA— For lawmakers and advocates standing at Broad and Erie on Monday morning, the work on a project to make the transit station more accessible was just beginning, but it’s still a reason to celebrate. 

“This is a day that’s been long in coming to finally, finally, be breaking ground on this station and to make the full commitment to accessibility that this city and this commonwealth and our country should’ve been committed to a long time ago,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said. “We’re just getting there, we have a long way to go, but this is a good day today.” 

Casey joined local lawmakers and advocates to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking of a new $38 million project which will make the Erie station on the Broad Street Line fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by the summer of 2026. The updates for the station will include the installation of a new elevator from street level to the station mezzanine and new elevators from the mezzanine to the northbound and southbound platforms. 

“SEPTA service is a gateway to so many opportunities for so many people, but only if it is accessible,” SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie Richards said.

The funding was made possible by the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), more commonly known as the bipartisan infrastructure law, part of the Federal Transit Administration’s All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP)

A U.S. Department of Transportation official said Monday that the Erie Station ADA project is the first station accessibility project in the nation to advance to construction with funding from this program. 

Casey said he worked on the initiative with U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to ensure rail transit systems have the funding needed to make stations accessible to people with disabilities. 

Speaking to the Capital-Star following the groundbreaking, Casey said it’s not an inexpensive commitment, but a critical investment, and part of the goal was to make the infrastructure bill focus not just on transit funding broadly, but to focus specific, targeted dollars for accessibility.

“When you do that, you’re really…fulfilling the goals and the aspirations of the now 34-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act,” Casey told the Capital-Star. “So we’re late getting to this as a country, but we’re finally making this investment and it’s the right thing to do.”

In December 2022, SEPTA was awarded $56 million through the first round of ASAP grant funding to support six accessibility projects. SEPTA recently completed an ADA project at Susquehanna-Dauphin Station and is on track to complete its 13th fully accessible Broad Street Line [B] station, when work at Tasker-Morris Station is finished later in 2024.

SEPTA officials said on Monday that their board is scheduled to vote on the 2025 Capital Budget and 12-year capital program at its next meeting. Sixty-one percent of all Broad Street Line, Market-Frankford Line, and Trolley trips are currently accessible stations, but the 12-year program will make all of them accessible.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.