HARRISBURG, PA — A longtime advocate for transportation improvements in southeastern Pennsylvania, state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, is applauding recent unanimous votes by the boards of commissioners in Chester, Berks and Montgomery counties to form the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority, which is an important next step in restoring passenger train service between Philadelphia and Reading, including Pottstown.
The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority will be the regional coordinating body between Berks, Chester, and Montgomery counties for the restoration of train service through the execution of contracts, selection of a service operator, and seeking and obtaining state and federal funding.
“Bringing the train back to Pottstown has long been a top priority of mine because it would help unlock far-reaching economic and social benefits for our region,” Ciresi said. “With the approval of this rail authority, we get closer to this goal, which will benefit our region economically and socially. Restoring the ‘Reading Railroad’ of Monopoly fame would increase economic development, support downtown revitalization efforts, relieve traffic congestion, provide access to a range of cultural/educational/dining venues throughout the region, create job opportunities, boost property values, provide new transportation options, and attract young professionals and families to relocate in our communities.”
According to a TEMS study, the project is projected to generate almost $1.4 billion in new regional income and increase property values by more than $1 billion over 30 years. The three counties’ legislators showed their support for the project, with 17 state representatives and 11 state senators signing letters circulated by Ciresi and state Sen. Judy Schwank to the commissioners in support of forming the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority.
“I’m glad we’ve seized the moment to form the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority because of the unprecedented federal funding now available for new passenger rail service and Amtrak’s demonstrated interest in this corridor through their Amtrak Connects vision,” Ciresi said. “With these resources and industry interest, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a transportation system that meets our growing region’s infrastructure needs and opens us up to greater prosperity.”
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