Inside look at multi-million SEPTA infrastructure repairs underway in the city’s light rail tunnel – CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – SEPTA is preparing to increase its service as more people return to their offices, but in doing so, they will make millions of dollars in improvements. Howard Monroe of CBS3 got exclusive insight into critical infrastructure repairs.

“The congestion is going to come back and we have to be there to be the economic engine of the city,” said SEPTA deputy general manager Bob Lund.

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But first, the hard work needs to be done. SEPTA is currently in the middle of a multi-million dollar project to repair its tram tunnel.

The tunnel runs from 40th Street in West Philadelphia to 13th Street in downtown.

“Our trolley system is essential in transporting passengers from West Philly to Center City,” said Chief Engineer Dave Montvydas.

SEPTA Deputy Managing Director Bob Lund and Chief Engineer Dave Montvydas have given CBS3 exclusive access to the work in progress.

Some 300 SEPTA employees work around the clock to replace or repair station platforms and parts of the tunnel to repair signaling systems and tracks, paint and improve lighting.

Sometimes there is no replacement for labor. Teams replace six miles of wire and they do it by hand.

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The tunnel had to be closed to complete the work. SEPTA says workers can work more efficiently and safely with it closed.

The cost of the blitz? $ 10 million.

This is part of SEPTA’s $ 1 billion cart modernization plan.

“Without our trolley tunnel, we don’t have enough buses or roads to get all of these people into the city in a timely manner,” Montvydas said.

SEPTA says ridership at its lowest point during the pandemic was only 10% of what it was in 2019. But, it has since recovered to around 40% and according to a new report from the Center City District , business leaders expect more workers, business travelers, tourists and students to return to the city during the summer.

SEPTA says that by doing this job now, the system will be ready.

“The city will come back,” Lund said. “We are all confident in this. It might be a little longer than we’d like, but we’ll get the city back to where it should be and to do that, public transit is key.

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The tram tunnel is expected to reopen on July 26, and nighttime tram service in the city center will resume in September.

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