U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and UD President Patrick Harker at the announcement of a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the Newark Regional Transportation Center Station Improvement Project.

All aboard

Newark Train Station to be improved with $10 million federal grant

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4:13 p.m., June 22, 2012--The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $10 million TIGER IV grant to the Newark Regional Transportation Center Station Improvement Project, to be located on the University of Delaware's Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.

The grant was announced June 22 by Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt. 

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The award will improve the Newark Train Station into a multi-modal hub, while maintaining or even expanding the operations in the adjacent freight rail yard and will serve as a transit-oriented development catalyst for UD's STAR Campus. The new station will improve passenger safety with grade-separated access to the new platform, will advance Americans with Disabilities compliance and will allow for new SEPTA/DART First State ticket windows and vending machines.

This project is part of a larger development plan being led by the University of Delaware. It will help further potential development of the STAR Campus, which will include a health sciences complex with UD's College of Health Sciences and a Bloom Energy manufacturing facility, as well as retail and residential space.

In addition to the development potential, the completion of this project could facilitate future Amtrak and passenger train service (including to downstate areas that are not currently served) and allow expanded SEPTA/MARC commuter rail service while maintaining existing freight operations.

The Newark station was selected for funding by the U.S. Department of Transportation in a competitive evaluation process that took into account the potential for the project to improve mobility, boost economic growth and reduce environmental impacts.

"Newark's new rail facility provides a real desirable transportation alternative to the grueling congestion on the I-95 corridor while improving the efficiency and comfort of commuter rail passengers in the region," said Rogoff, who was in Newark for the grant announcement. "Across the country, the TIGER program is putting Americans back to work and vacant lots back to good use so that communities may thrive for years to come."

"This project will help put us on a faster track for economic growth while protecting and improving our quality of life. It will connect us to other cities in the region and further positions Delaware as an ideal place to live and to do business," said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in a statement. "From our federal delegation to our engaged local officials, and from county to campus leaders, so many people came together to make the case for these improvements."

"This funding provides critical capital to the Newark Regional Transportation Center Station Improvement Project and will benefit our city, state and region. Thanks to the efforts of WILMAPCO (Wilmington Area Planning Council), DelDOT, the University of Delaware, the city of Newark and New Castle County, who worked with the congressional delegation to secure this grant, the dream of improving the Newark Rail Station is finally coming true after all these years," said Carper. "The fact that Delaware's application was selected from dozens of other submissions from around the country speaks to the promise that this project offers to our state and region. Combined with state and local funds, these federal dollars are a smart transportation investment that will improve the lives of Delaware's travelers and make our state an even better place to do business."

"Improving transportation options is critical to creating more livable communities," U.S. Sen. Chris Coons said in a statement. "This project represents a strong collaborative effort that will bring tremendous benefits to our state and the region. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners as this project moves forward."

"Investments in rail are investments in the long-term future of the economy," said U.S. Rep. John Carney. "With this expansion, Newark has the potential to take advantage of significant economic development opportunities, particularly with the University of Delaware's STAR campus being built right next door. A modern rail system that both passengers and businesses can access is essential in order to compete for these opportunities. I look forward to seeing this project move even closer to completion."

WILMAPCO, the lead sponsor of the project, requested a $10 million grant as part of the $26 million project to construct the redesigned station. The project is also funded by the state of Delaware, University of Delaware, city of Newark and New Castle County. A second phase of this project, which will further improve both freight and passenger travel, is currently proposed, and officials are working to identify public and private funding sources.

"The Newark Regional Transportation Center is an example of how public, private and educational agencies can work together to build multi-modal transportation alternatives for riders in the region. It is our hope that this center, along with the STAR Campus, will spur greater economic benefit for Newark, New Castle County, the state of Delaware and the Northeast region in general," said  Bhatt.

"This funding will enable and enhance the infrastructure progress of the STAR campus, strengthening the connection of Newark to cities along the East Coast and creating jobs and economic development opportunities for the state and region," said UD President Patrick Harker. 

"New Castle County is pleased to have contributed funding to both the TIGER II and IV grants for the Newark Train Center," said County Executive Paul Clark. "The center will be a catalyst to attracting new businesses and jobs to the greater Newark area."

"We are very excited about receiving the Tiger IV grant for the Newark Train Station," said Newark Mayor Vance Funk. "Our partnership with the University of Delaware in this venture will lead to Newark becoming the economic development magnet in our area."

Photos by Evan Krape 

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