Train station work begins
Officials break ground on long-awaited project
Shovels finally touched dirt Monday as state officials broke ground on the first phase of upgrades to the Newark train station – a $50 million project that’s been years in the making.
The improvements to the Newark Regional Transportation Center, located just north of the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus off South College Avenue, include a redesigned parking lot, new station building and ADA-compliant highlevel platform.
During phase one of construction, which officially
kicked off Monday, New Castle-based Greggo and Ferrara will add more spaces to the existing parking lot and reconfigure the intersection on South College Avenue. The company won the contract after it submitted a $4.8 million bid.
The phase is scheduled to be complete in early 2018.
The second phase – building the station – will start afterward and will take a year to 18 months to complete. The new station building with restrooms and a waiting area will replace the current ticket window and serve as a place to welcome rail riders to Newark and the STAR Campus. According to officials, it will have a green roof and 60 covered bike parking spaces.
There are also plans to make the current platform more conducive for riders with disabilities and build a covered pedestrian bridge over one of the tracks, so riders will no longer have to cross over on makeshift pallets.
The new platform will sit between two tracks, allowing the station to accommodate two trains at the same time. The idea is to increase SEPTA service and eventually extend the MARC commuter rail line from Perryville, Md., to Newark so commuters can travel from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and also reach western Maryland and West Virginia.
The entire project is budgeted in DelDOT’s six-year capital program, and New Castle County, the city of Newark, University of Delaware and Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) are also chipping in, with the rest of the project funded by a $10 million grant from the Federal Tran- sit Administration.
Gov. John Carney said Monday he is impressed with the collaboration and looking forward to seeing how the improved station will add to the potential of the STAR Campus, calling the project “a great marriage.”
He recalled the smell of paint wafting from the Chrysler assembly plant, which produced millions of cars there from 1957 until 2008, when Chrysler shuttered the factory due to a plummeting economy. The next year, the university bought the 272-acre site, renaming it the Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus, and demolished most of the buildings.
Carney said the paint smell meant thousands of people had jobs, and that brought him joy, but times have changed and the STAR Campus is now one of the most attractive up-and-coming economic sites in the state.
“It used to be the smell of paint that got you excited; now it’s the sound of commuter trains going on behind me,” Carney said.
Sen. Tom Carper also touched on the significance of Chrysler, adding that he fought hard to keep the plant in Newark when he was governor from 1993 to 2001. He said he still remembers the day the plant was demolished.
“It was painful and still is, but out of adversity comes opportunity,” he said, referring to the plans for the train station and STAR Campus.
After Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Polly Sierer said she’s looking forward to the project not only creating new construction jobs, but also increasing opportunities for Newarkers and UD students.
She said she’s proud New- ark is a part of the partnership between the state, UD and county and that the city is helping make this station a reality.
“They should all be very proud and honored that a regional transportation center is coming to the city of Newark,” Sierer said.
“It puts us on the map,” she added.
State, county and city officials dig shovels into a pile of dirt Monday, officially kicking off the first phase of upgrades to the Newark train station.
An artist’s rendering of the Newark train station shows a new station building with bathrooms, a waiting area, ticket window and small pedestrian bridge.