The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement review (Draft EIS) for SEPTA’s King of Prussia Rail Project (KOP Rail) is now available online. The Draft EIS can be accessed at www.kingofprussiarail.com.
KOP Rail is SEPTA’s proposed extension of the existing Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) into King of Prussia, providing a “one-seat” ride to King of Prussia from either the 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby, or the Norristown Transportation Center.
The Draft EIS identifies alternatives and analyzes the effects the proposed project would have on the natural, cultural and socioeconomic environments. This federal process requires that SEPTA evaluate a range of options or alternatives that would address the project needs and goals, and determining which, if any, of the alternatives best balances potential impacts on the area environment and community with its anticipated benefits.
“SEPTA is pleased to have reached this critical milestone in the process and appreciates the FTA’s guidance,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel. “We are committed to continuing to be good partners in the community as we work to enhance transportation options that make the entire region more livable and competitive.”
The proposed NHSL extension will provide a more frequent, more reliable transit option between Center City and Norristown, including to the King of Prussia Mall and adjacent employment centers. Improved transit service will increase regional mobility, provide an alternative to auto travel in the area to help reduce congestion, and support development of multimodal transportation options.
In an effort to minimize impacts to the community, SEPTA is exploring two design options within the recommended Locally Preferred Alternative. Through a series of community meetings and backyard visits to provide project information and better understand community concerns, SEPTA modified its proposed plans. As a result, additional design options are being explored, including a PA Turnpike North/Southside Option crossing over U.S. 202. This design option provides separation between KOP Rail structures and neighborhoods to the north and south.
The Draft EIS, which can be found on the King of Prussia Rail website
(www.kingofprussiarail.com/), presents the findings of the analysis to the public and stakeholders for their review. The public will have the opportunity to comment on the document online and at public hearings and information sessions before a decision is made.
Hearings will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in King of Prussia (301 W Dekalb Pike) on Monday, November 13, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and at the Norristown Municipal Building on Wednesday, November 15 at 6 p.m. A series of public information sessions will also be held in Upper Darby, King of Prussia and Philadelphia. The schedule for the information sessions will be posted on the KOP Rail website. Online comments can be submitted at www.kingofprussiarail.com/comment.html.
SEPTA will review all comments submitted on the Draft EIS at the close of the comment period. SEPTA anticipates work will on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) will begin once all comments are reviewed.
The Final EIS will include further refinement of the preferred alternative; responses to comments; commitments to mitigate any adverse impacts of the project; evidence of compliance with relevant environmental statutes, executive orders and regulations; and a description of the changes that have been made to the project since the DRAFT EIS was published. The Final EIS is expected to be issued in 2019.