Bethlehem City Council President Eric Evans has informed me that the draft resolution is being sent to the Community Development Committee, and I expect we’ll be discussing it as soon as they schedule a date.
Fact sheet regarding creation of a Rail Agency (SMART-LV) to serve the Lehigh Valley and the Markets of Phila. & N.Y.C., via Lansdale,Pa.,and High Bridge, N.J.
Total value of entire project – $450 to 500 million. (50% local, 50% Federal)
Virtually all the capital raised here will stay and be spent in Northampton and Lehigh Counties.
Communities on the line outside our 2 counties who want service will be asked to provide a platform & parking.
All new track on 31-mi branch to Philly, about 20-mi upgrade to branch fr Bloomsbury to High Bridge.
Preferred rolling stock – 3-car DMU sets (1pwrd,2 trailers), 456 pass. Capacity, 125 mph top speed. U.S. Railcar Co., Columbus, OH.
Primary ridership mkt will be to & from work in both the Philly & NJ-NYC corridors.
Secondary mkt – capability to bring large nos. in for festivals, Arena, conventions, LVIA, tourism, Etc.
Direct rail service to all 5 terminals @ Phl intl airport, easy shuttles to LVIA on our end.
Connect to AmTrak @ Newark, NYC, & Philly for high-speed NEC svc as well as Nation-wide network.
Secure, patrolled parking at all stations – $2/day on par w/ SEPTA’s current rates.
Much easier access to LVIA via rail for Phila. Mkt., w/o need to drive here & park at LVIA.
Svc to NJ- NYC corridor slightly less frequent than Phila. Svc due to heavy freight traffic on that line.
All existing Greenways are compatible w/ rail (Rails with Trails), & SMART will pave gravel sections.
One station- stop ea. For Easton & Bethlehem, poss 2 for Allentown, being largest in the Valley.
Rail shuttle svc will operate btw I-78/412 park&ride & attractions/activities/venues in all 3 cities.
Beth. Branch to Philly can host excursions, dinner trains, holiday specials, etc. due to less traffic on it.
Rail service for our area (L.V. mkt) is much more affordable & achievable than we have been led to believe. A separate rail agency is needed to shepherd this through; it is not and never has been LANTA’s responsibility to address the issue. This is simply not their mandate, & LANTA is not the “bad guy” here; they are doing their job & doing it extremely well, and will be a vital partner once train svc returns and is up and running since their routes reach to all corners of the Valley rail obviously cannot.
The above list may well grow and expand dramatically, so watch for updates to appear over time. This is just beginning, so hang on !!