Train sta­tion work be­gins

Of­fi­cials break ground on long-awaited project

Newark Post - - Front Page - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

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.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY KARIE SIM­MONS

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DELDOT

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.

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