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May 13, 2022

SEPTA's King of Prussia rail line advances toward final design

The transit authority has touted the project as a way to connect the Philadelphia region's three major job centers and reduce commuter traffic on I-76

Transportation SEPTA

The next step in SEPTA's ongoing King of Prussia Rail project is underway, as the board approved the acquisitions of approximately 70 properties on Thursday. The rail will extend the existing Norristown High Speed Line four miles into King of Prussia. Above, a rendering of the Allendale Road station near the King of Prussia Mall.

SEPTA's plan to bring train service to King of Prussia by extending the Norristown High Speed Line is inching closer to fruition. The transit authority is accepting bids for the final design of a 3.8-mile spur that would include five new stations. 

Construction is expected to begin in early 2024, after the planning phase of the project is complete, SEPTA spokesperson Kelly Greene said. A tentative construction schedule will be released in late June.

The project is expected to cost $2.1 billion. SEPTA set aside $390 million for the project in its 2023 fiscal year budget, but it seeks to cover up to 50% of the project with funding from the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts Program, which provides grants to local transit projects.

SEPTA has estimated the project will increase property values" by $2.5 billion across the region and usher in 5.3 million square feet of new development and 8,000 permanent jobs. Transit officials have said it will save commuters time by getting them off of I-76 and, in turn, reduce air pollution. 

SEPTA has pushed the project as a way to "link the Philadelphia region's three biggest job centers" – King of Prussia, University City and Center City – in roughly 45 minutes. But commuters using the extended Norristown High Speed Line to travel to Philly will still need to transfer at 69th Street Station in Upper Darby.""

The proposed route for the project hits several economic hubs in King of Prussia.

The spur would branch off from the Norristown High Speed Line behind the Henderson Square Shopping Center and the first stop will be on nearby Henderson Road.

Going west, the line would include two stops serving the King of Prussia Mall at Allendale Road and Mall Boulevard and two more on First Street, at American Avenue and Moore Road, to serve several business parks and the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

But this route has its critics, including Connor Harris, an infrastructure expert at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. 

In an op-ed published by The Inquirer, Harris suggested placing the line along U.S. Route 202, one of King of Prussia's major commercial corridors, would make more sense. The proposed route runs along an undeveloped power line corridor and then parallel to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. 

The 202 option, which was considered by SEPTA early on in the planning process, would create better access to schools, medical offices, churches and other common destinations, Harris wrote. 

SEPTA is holding a pre-proposal meeting Tuesday for firms interested in creating the final design for the project. More information about that can be found in SEPTA's request for bid. Final technical proposals will be due by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20.