PAOLI (September 23, 2019) – The first phase of the Paoli Train Station project is done but other train stations in Chester County are in dire need of attention and work on the them needs to get done sooner rather than later, state Senator Andy Dinniman said today.
Dinniman made those comments at the ribbon-cutting for the Paoli Train Station Accessibility Improvement Project, a $36 million project that includes a new center high-level platform, elevators, and ramps; a pedestrian overpass; parking lot improvements; ADA improvements to the existing station building; and improvements to the existing rail infrastructure.
The completion of the Accessibility project finally brings the station into compliance with federal transportation accessibility standards and the American with Disabilities Act while setting the stage for more planned upgrades and improvements in Paoli.
“While I am thankful that the first phase of work is done in Paoli and almost done in Exton, we have communities that continue to wait months and years for Amtrak to get moving on their stations,” Dinniman said. “Downingtown, Coatesville and Parkesburg all have been promised new or significantly improved stations – stations that will play a key role in their economic development and revitalization plans – but those plans seem to continue to linger with no beginning in sight.”
In Downingtown, work is now underway at the intersection of Boot Road and Route 322 (the site of the former Sonoco paper mill plant) where the Hankin Group is planning a transit-oriented, mixed-use development of 442 residential units atop 14,200 square feet of retail space tied to the new train station. However, work on the train station has yet to begin.
In Coatesville, work has been completed on the Third Avenue Streetscape Project and other street and transportation improvements as part of the gateway to the train station but construction on the station itself has yet to begin.
And in Parkesburg, plans to significantly update and improve to the train station are in the design process.
Dinniman emphasized that it is vital for Amtrak to move forward and allow PennDOT to continue its work on the stations while funding sources are available. He also noted that work was expedited on the Exton and Paoli stations as a result of an ADA lawsuit.
“It may be time to consider an ADA lawsuit to get work moving in Coatesville, where the train platforms and shelters are not accessible to those with disabilities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Paoli Train Station is now moving toward the second phase of the project, the proposed Darby Road Extension. That phase calls for replacing the existing bridge on North Valley Road over the Amtrak/SEPTA lines with a new bridge that redirects the road to the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Darby Road. This will allow the parking areas and jitney operations on the north side of the tracks to be combined.
The final phase of the Paoli project includes the reconstruction of a new, expanded transportation center that will serve the growing needs of residents, commuters, and travelers and support the Paoli business district and future economic growth in the region.
The design has yet to be finalized, but the proposed intermodal station complex will include an additional high-level platform on the outbound side, a new waiting area, ticket offices and passenger amenities, enhanced bus facilities, and a commuter parking garage with more than 600 spaces, among other upgrades. Plans also anticipate retail and commercial storefronts on the proposed parking structure.