BY TONY WEST/ A long-proposed plan to run the Broad Street subway line into the Navy Yard received a significant boost today.
US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration, urging the agency to begin discussions with stakeholders in the region about extending the Broad Street line by 1.5 miles into the Navy Yard. This extension would play a role in job creation and economic growth in the area, the Senator maintained.
â€œIncreasing reliable transportation services is critical to Philadelphiaâ€™s present and future economy,â€ Casey said. â€œExtending this line would continue to grow the Navy Yard as an attractive place for businesses. This effort will support the thousands of jobs already at the Navy Yard, and could create more.â€
Extending the Orange Line southward has been bruited about for decades. As the City began methodically to redevelop the site after the Navy closed most of its activities there in 1995, transportation became a key planning concern.
In 2008 a team of agencies commissioned the Broad Street Line Extension Feasibility Study. This report found extending the subway could be done relatively cheaply because most of it could be built with a trench instead of by drilling.
Two new subway stops would support â€œgreater residential and commercial uses in a transit supportive manner at a cost of approximately $370 million (in 2008 dollars). The study demonstrates the strong ridership, development potential, and economic benefit for the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,â€ the study asserted.
The study estimated $4.6 billion in economic impact from the subway extension, as property values soar and new residential and commercial development followed the Orange Line into Navy Yard.
More than 8,000 new boardings a day would make the Broad Street Subway much more efficient than existing bus service, the study found, making it the most cost-effective form of public transit for the area.
The Navy Yard currently supports 130 companies and 10,000 workers, and an extended line could increase the economic benefit to businesses and residents by boosting jobs and tax rateables for the City and State.
â€œI believe that it is time to gather stakeholders to examine ways to further the extension of the Broad Street Line,â€ Casey wrote to Brigid Hynes-Cherin, regional administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. Federal money would likely be key in any construction project of this size.