After a decade of work, $740 million, shuttered businesses, closed streets, lawsuits, and four general managers, SEPTA yesterday celebrated the end of its reconstruction of the Market Street Elevated line in West Philadelphia.
SEPTA hosted an "elebration" across the street from its new 46th Street Station, with music, free pretzels, water ice, and free rides on the El.
SEPTA General Manager Joseph Casey said the reconstructed two miles of elevated track, with six new stations, would be "a stimulus for economic redevelopment in West Philadelphia."
For those who lived and shopped in the shadow of the El, it was a day many had thought would never come.
"I can't believe it's 10 years," said Denise Phillips, a neighbor who braved heavy rain to join the festivities at the Enterprise Center, 46th and Market Streets. "We all had to get through it."
"It hasn't been easy on anyone," said a woman who identified herself only as Grace. "Many people lost their businesses. . . . But it had to be done. It had been here 100 years."
The Market Street line opened in 1907, carrying riders from 69th Street in Upper Darby through West Philadelphia to Center City. The Frankford Elevated line, from Center City to Northeast Philadelphia, opened in 1922. Today, the combined Market-Frankford line is SEPTA's busiest route, with about 160,000 riders a day.
The reconstruction price tag rose from $420 million in 2000 to $740 million as construction costs skyrocketed and delays pushed up the price.
The rebuilt line is sleeker than its predecessor, with single columns supporting it instead of the two-columned steel stanchions that bracketed Market Street for a century.
Brightly lighted brick-and-steel stations, with elevators and escalators and original public art, have replaced the old platforms.