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Newark Train Station Study

Introduction

The Newark Train Station is located along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the City of Newark, DE, just west of South College Avenue/SR 896.  Auto access is from S. College Avenue via a signalized intersection with Mopar Drive, with a 276-space parking lot, a ticket sales booth and a DART bus stop.  The station currently functions as a single-track operation, with trains serving a low-level platform and laying over on Track A of the NEC.  This configuration limits the station to accommodating only one train at a time.  It also creates a conflict with freight train access to the Delmarva Secondary Rail Line, which is entered via Track A and is the primary access point for all rail movement to the Delmarva Peninsula.  In 2004, DelDOT completed a study to expand passenger rail service to the Newark Train Station and eliminate the conflict with freight movement.  It was found that there was no room on site for expansion of services, and no room to expand off-site due to the adjacent Chrysler Assembly Plant to the west and the University of Delaware’s (UD) Agricultural complex to the east.

In January 2009, the Chrysler Assembly Plant ceased operations and the site became available for purchase.  UD has since purchased the site and has created a plan for a new academic and technical campus.  Part of the plan includes Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and land has been set aside to allow the expansion of the station at its current location.  In conjunction with this plan, the City of Newark has given their support for the UD plan and renewed its request to expand the station at its current site.  A working group with representation from DelDOT, UD, the City of Newark, New Castle County, the Delaware Department of Economic Development, Norfolk Southern (NS) and WILMAPCO met to discuss this project and find solutions. These meetings resulted in the commissioning of a feasibility study. The Newark Train Station Feasibility Study was a year-long effort funded by the majority of the partners to determine if the station could be expanded at its current site despite the physical and operational challenges. At the end of the study in July 2010, it was determined that it was feasible to do so, with the cooperation of NS and Amtrak, and with the ability to expand the entire railroad operation (both passenger and freight) onto land made available by UD.

During the same time period, WILMAPCO and DelDOT staff met with representatives from the offices of U.S. Senators Thomas Carper and Chris Coons and U.S. Representative John Carney to discuss this project and find funding opportunities. When the USDOT announced a second TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) grant, WILMAPCO and DelDOT applied for and were awarded a Planning Grant, thanks to the full support of the DE federal delegation. The $2.25 million grant, along with the $896,00 matching funds from state, local and private partners, was programmed to complete the NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) studies and begin the preliminary engineering. This phase of the project began in September 2011 and is currently underway. To this point, an exhaustive series of Technical Working Group meetings have been held regularly beginning in January 2012 for the project team and partners to meet with NS and Amtrak to develop the final station plan and track improvements for the Newark Regional Transportation Center (NRTC). The ultimate station plan that was developed in the feasibility study has been divided into a short-term plan and a future plan, due to the high cost and complexity of the project. The preliminary engineering is underway and the project cost estimate has been completed and is under review. The station access and design work is also underway to complete the building, pedestrian platform access, bus access and parking footprint. The project team holds weekly conference calls to address issues as they arise and to keep the project on schedule.

The final design and construction of this phase of the NRTC will be funded in part by a $10 million TIGER IV grant that was awarded in June 2012; matching funds of $23.2 million have been raised by the State of Delaware, the City of Newark, New Castle County, the University of Delaware and WILMAPCO. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in September 2014, with the station completed and open for train service in January 2017.

Resources

  • TIGER IV Grant Narrative, 2012  (PDF – 1.6MB)
  • TIGER II Planning Grant Application, August 2010 (PDF – 6MB)
  • Newark Train Station Final Report, July 2010 (PDF – 1MB)
  • DTC’s Wilmington to Newark Commuter Rail Improvement Project, 2004 (PDF – 4MB)
  • Delaware Freight and Goods Movement Technical Report, 2004 (PDF – 370KB)
  • Delaware Passenger Rail Engineering Study, 2002 (PDF – 25MB)
  • WILMAPCO Freight and Goods Movement homepage

If you have any questions, please contact Dave Gula at 302-737-6205 x122 or dgula@wilmapco.org.