SEPTA officials and local politicians formally broke ground yesterday for a $12 million reconstruction of the Croydon train station.

The Bucks County project marks one of the first major local uses of federal stimulus funding, which is contributing about $8.5 million toward the station improvements. The Croydon station is one of 32 SEPTA projects being funded with $191 million in stimulus money.

With new heated passenger shelters, high-level platforms, and the reconstruction of an adjacent intersection, the project is a boon to the struggling Lower Bucks community. Local officials hope it will create more jobs and more development.

"We pray this will not just redevelop a train station, but redevelop our neighborhood and community," a local priest, the Rev. Larry Crehan of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, said in his invocation before political and SEPTA officials plunged ceremonial shovels into ceremonial dirt.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.) called the construction project "an important piece of the revitalization of Bristol Township and Lower Bucks County."

Murphy was joined by Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.), State Sen. Robert "Tommy" Tomlinson (R., Bucks), State Rep. Anthony J. Melio (D., Bucks), and SEPTA board chairman Pasquale "Pat" Deon Sr. in the ceremonies along the R7-Trenton line.

The assembled politicians gave much of the credit for the station's construction to longtime county Republican chairman Harry Fawkes, who had lobbied SEPTA and local officials for years to upgrade the station.

"Day after day, Harry beat us up," Tomlinson said. "I've got to give him the credit. It's easy for the money to go somewhere else - he wants to make sure some of that money comes here."

The improvements will include a new underground drainage system to reduce frequent flooding in the area, a "privacy wall" to screen the new parking lot from nearby homes, elevated sidewalks, adjacent off-street bus-turnout lanes, new bus shelters, accessible ramps, and landscaping, lighting, signage, and communications systems.

The station project, which is creating 108 local jobs with 22 contractors, is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2011.

Contact staff writer Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or