The billion-dollar King of Prussia (KOP) rail project took a major step forward last week, when SEPTA awarded the design contract for the project’s first phase to a construction engineering company.
The $7.3 million contract, awarded to Missouri-based company, HNTB, will allow the group to start designing the KOP rail, which will see the Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) extended to provide service to five stops in KOP. HNTB will be working off a conceptual design for the rail line, called the “Locally Preferred Alternative” (LPA), which SEPTA announced last year.
However, this is only the contract for Phase I, meaning HNTB will be working on a design for 15 percent of the overall project. SEPTA is trying to get federal funding to cover a $27.3 million contract for Phase II, which would allow HNTB to complete 30 percent of the project’s design.
“KOP Rail promotes and strengthens regional growth, and is needed to connect the three largest employment centers in the region – King of Prussia, University City and Center City. I am excited to see where this project takes us,” said Brandywine Realty Trust CEO Jerry Sweeney, who’s the chairman of the KOP Rail Coalition.
The rail extension will have five stops along the way: Henderson Street, two at the mall, Moore Park, and the Valley Forge Casino. SEPTA’s conceptual, preliminary design for the route was approved nearly a year ago, when officials decided to shift the route away from residential communities, and along the north side of the PA Turnpike.
“The KOP Rail project will play a major role in transforming mobility throughout our region, reducing traffic congestion in the King of Prussia area, and improving the quality of life for generations to come,” said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.
A lot of the project’s future is dependent on funding, some of which will come locally, from SEPTA’s budget. The rest they hope to get from federal programs like the New Starts grant, which the Federal Transit Administration awards to light and commuter rail projects.
If they’re able secure the funding, SEPTA hopes to finish up the project and start service on the rail by 2023, SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said Monday.