Newark Amtrak, SEPTA station undergoes major renovation
The first phase of a $26 million dollar project to transform the Newark train station is set to begin next month.
Officials gathered Monday morning in the station’s parking lot to announce the soon-to-come changes after over a decade of planning. Governor John Carney recalled a time when the old Chrysler plant – where Bob Marley once worked the overnight shift - sat in its place.
“I remember when I was coaching football right across the street at the University of Delaware about 30 years ago," Carney said. "Every day in practice you could smell the heavy smell of paint as cars were being assembled here and painted across the street. And for me, while it was annoying at times, it meant there were thousands of people that went to work every day right here on this spot. It used to be paint smell that got you excited from this site. Now it’s the sound of commuter trains coming by here behind me.”
The Chrysler plant closed by 2009, and now serves as a transportation hub for students and business leaders traveling to UD. But with only one northbound and one southbound Amtrak stop per day at the station, it’s hardly sustainable.
DelDOT is working with UD and other partners to update it – with the hopes of attracting more businesses to the adjacent STAR campus.
"Out of adversity comes opportunity, and there’s great opportunity here," Senator Tom Carper said Monday. "We’re seizing that day."
The project's first phase will involve reconfiguring the parking lot’s entrance to create a more natural traffic flow. Those changes are expected to be complete by the middle of next year.
That’s also when the project’s second phase is set to begin. That phase will include building a new station with an overpass that’s compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Delaware Senator Chris Coons says the overpass is essential.
“Not too long ago I was on the Northeast Regional that stops here in Newark," Coons said. "And it is striking to see passengers get off and literally walk across the tracks.”
The project received a $10 million federal grant in 2012 because of its potential to boost the economy by attracting new businesses to the adjacent UD STAR campus.
In 2019, Amtrak will add another track line and SEPTA plans to add several new cars. Those changes are expected to boost the efficiency and frequency of trains running to Newark.