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Amtrak to build new power transmission structure for former PRR Main Line (Zoo-Paoli)

Posted by Olog-hai on Sun Apr 29 14:27:07 2012

Mainline Media News

Amtrak plans new power-line structure from Merion to Paoli

Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
By Alan Thomas
Officials from Burns Engineering held the first of two meetings for public officials to introduce Amtrak’s Zoo to Paoli Electrification Transmission Line Project, now in the design and planning phases, at Harcum College Wednesday night.

The project, which will involve reconstructing the Bryn Mawr Substation building adjacent to the Harcum and SEPTA parking lots in Bryn Mawr, and moving and rebuilding the Paoli Substation west of the current location on the north side of the Amtrak right-of-way in Paoli, will also relocate the 138-kV transmission lines necessary to power trains between Philadelphia and Paoli to the Amtrak right-of-way with the new lines, actually two lines, above the existing 12-kV catenary.

A kV (or kilovolt) equals 1,000 volts, 138,000 volts of transmission being standard for the Amtrak system, although individual trains run on 12 kV provided by transformers through the overhead catenary system.

Daren Petroski, vice president of railroad and transit systems at Burns, explained to representatives of Lower Merion Township, fire-company officials and a few others the unusual situation where the 20-mile-long right-of-way’s transmission line follows a meandering 26-mile path along the old Pennsylvania Railroad Norristown line, now the Schuylkill Bikeway, and then back to Paoli using the Norfolk Southern freight line, known locally as the Trenton Cutoff. Usual substation spacing along the right-of-way is 10 miles.

A second meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 30 at Radnor Middle School, also for public officials. A public information meeting is scheduled for June 6 at Villanova University.

Many of the existing overhead electrification support structures are as old as 100 years and need replacement. The new towers will be higher to handle the transmission lines, around 60-75 feet high with some, over bridges, reaching 100 feet. No additional right-of-way or property will be acquired for the project. The transmission lines will be at the top of the towers.

Although the construction, which will be done between 2015 and 2020, is in the Keystone Corridor, one of 10 corridors in the country that has been proposed for high-speed rail service, the electrification project is not part of the Keystone high-speed project, Petroski said.

In addition to Amtrak officials present at the meeting, representatives of Baker Environmental Consulting Inc. and Stell Environmental Enterprises Inc. presented insights into the National Environmental Policy Act and the environmental studies necessary for Federal funding. Allen Heist of Stell also gave an accounting of the 46 historical resources along the corridor that must be considered in the project.

Heist reminded those at the meeting that “the rail line [itself] is an historic site.”


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