White House sends infrastructure czar to Coatesville to celebrate revival of city’s train station

COATESVILLE — Local, county and congressional lawmakers united with state officials alongside a White House senior advisor to celebrate the transformation of the Coatesville Train Station — a contemporary $65 million infrastructure revival project now underway — on Wednesday at Fleetwood Street.

Coatesville Council Member Charrisse Allen and City Council President Linda Lavender-Norris tour work underway at the Coatesville Train Station on Wednesday. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

The station closed in the 1990s and fell into disarray.

Ground broke on the $65 million project to revive the Coatesville Train Station last year. The station, located between Third and Fourth avenues along Fleetwood Street, is set to reopen to the public in 2025.

White House Senior Advisor Mitch Landrieu, infrastructure coordinator, traveled to the Coatesville Train Station in Western Chester County in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

He joined Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf alongside U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th of Easttown, state Rep. Dan Williams, D-74th, of Sadsbury, Chester County Commissioner, Secretary Yassmin Gramian of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Coatesville City Council President Linda Lavender-Norris.

“I’m grateful with regard to our train station,” said Lavender-Norris, who was the first elected official to speak at the podium on Wednesday.

“This train station is transforming our community,” she said. “We stand in position to offer wonderful, livable wage jobs to our residents which will translate all the way to our youth and our schools.”

Just prior to delivering remarks, the lawmakers and officials joined Amtrak staff and Wickersham Construction personnel to tour the project site while witnessing steel tracks being laid.

“I’m so grateful,” the city council president said. “This is an awesome occasion.” Then Lavender-Norris thanked the county, state and federal officials present for all their support.

During his remarks, Landrieu lauded President Joe Biden’s leadership of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Act, signed into law last year. He said the Biden-Harris Administration has been delivering critical infrastructure investments to Pennsylvanians and Americans.

When signing the act, Landrieu said Biden, an advocate of Amtrak, wanted to make sure that Americans could have access to first class, high speed rail in the United States.

“Nothing’s possible without the support of everybody here today,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu said that Democrats and “a few courageous” Republicans voted in favor of the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law in November by President Joe Biden.

Houlahan said that the Infrastructure Investment Act might bring “multi-generational” reforms and called the measure a “once-in-a-generation accomplishment.”

The project is aimed at revitalizing the surrounding community with a modern, accessible train station and improving connections to the Amtrak Keystone Corridor, as previously reported.

“Nothing is more quintessentially American than the freedom that we have to move about our nation freely,” Houlahan said.

Ashley McBride of For Our Future Education Fund said communities like Coatesville have been ignored for far too long.

The $65 million Coatesville Train Station project has been funded by the Federal Transit Administration for $52 million, as well as $13 million in state transportation funds and $700,000 from Chester County, as previously reported.

Landrieu thanked Houlahan for her work in Congress to support the bipartisan infrastructure law.

“Thank you for your leadership,” Landrieu said to Houlahan.

He also thanked Wolf “for your service and everything you have done.”

Wolf’s term as governor ends in January. A governor can only serve two consecutive terms in Pennsylvania although there is no lifetime limit. Voters will vote to replace Wolf during the next gubernatorial election on November 8. Democrat Josh Shapiro is running against Republican Doug Mastriano in that race.

Also in November, Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District seat is up for election. Houlahan is running to remain in office, vying against Republican challenger Guy Ciarrocchi, a resident of Paoli. She is presently serving her second-term in Congress.

During her remarks at the train station, Houlahan said she met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, outside of the city, on Tuesday to discuss stormwater infrastructure in Coatesville. She said city officals also took part in the meeting.

At this time, there is no date set for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to visit the city and tour the area of Fifth Avenue and Olive Street, and elsewhere, however that could change in the near future.

Nearly one-year ago, 100 families became displaced from their homes in the City of Coatesville as rainfall from Ida caused historic floodwaters to engulf the first floors of both residential and commercial buildings. The stormwater infrastructure has yet to be replaced, as of press time.

“We have really old infrastructure under our streets,” said Lavender-Norris during her remarks at the start of the press conference on Wednesday. “And we need help with it.”

Lavender-Norris also thanked everyone gathered and lauded the ability for people to work together and collaborate on solutions.

Coatesville rising

“Communities in Chester County and across Pennsylvania are on the cusp of making historic investments in our infrastructure thanks to the federal infrastructure law,” said State Sen. Carolyn Comitta, D-19th of West Chester.

Comitta did not attend the event on Wednesday morning. However, she attended the groundbreaking ceremony with transportation officials and fellow dignitaries and Wolf in the fall.

“I look forward to the completion of the Coatesville train station and I continue to work with our local partners, our state legislative delegation, and Congresswoman Houlahan to ensure these funds support projects that create transformative opportunities for all workers, families, and residents,” Comitta said on Wednesday.

The Coatesville Train Station closed in 1996. It is set to reopen by 2025.

“Upgrading Coatesville’s infrastructure is an important and key part of its ongoing economic and community revitalization, as well as preparation for potential flooding from future storms like Ida,” Comitta said on Friday.

“A strong and reliable infrastructure is vital to meet the needs of residents, families, workers, and businesses in Coatesville and across Chester County and Pennsylvania,” she said.

For the most part, Hurricane Ida delivered up to seven feet of flood water for over six hours in the city. The floodwaters that surged damaged more than 60 homes and rental properties, as previously reported. The water peaked as high as 10 feet at Fifth and Olive in the heart of Coatesville.

“I’m happy to see not only the funding of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill but the commitment for Coatesville and the surrounding area,” said Williams, state representative.

“Having Mitch Landrieu, the president’s infrastructure advisor, Governor Wolf and our Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan come in for this event shows the dedication of the federal government,” Williams said on Wednesday evening. “I will continue to coordinate at the state level to keep things moving forward with the train station, Route 30 improvements and other much needed infrastructure projects.”

“We hope to address the need to replace and or repair the aging and inadequate stormwater infrastructure that has plagued the city for decades,” said Coatesville City Manager James Logan on August 8.

“The stormwater system and network of pipes require much-needed upgrades in order to ensure reliability and prevent flooding issues,” Logan said. “All stormwater in the city drains into one existing culvert. Recent storm events such as Hurricane Ida have caused the area on Fifth Avenue and Olive Street to extensively flood, creating hazardous conditions in the city, and resulting in significant property damage.

“We are seeking funding to implement a new stormwater management system that will disperse the amount of water we are currently experiencing in volumes never seen before — in non-traditional floodplain areas, and thus mitigate the impacts of lingering heavy rains, and reducing the potential for additional, catastrophic flooding that could lead to loss of life.” Logan said.

And while Coatesville has yet to receive money from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law in November to address and replace its aging stormwater system, that’s about to change, according to officials on Wednesday.

Wolf said good infrastructure supports stronger communities.

“We are the Keystone State,” said Wolf. “So I would argue, we deserve to have a lot of infrastructure invested right here in Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania is set to receive $1.4 billion for water infrastructure projects from the Infrastructure Investment Act, as previously reported.

Further, the Commonwealth will receive $1.6 billion for bridge improvements, including for off-system bridges, over the next five years from the new federal act, as previously reported.

Pennsylvania, home to more than 25,400 state-owned bridges, features 83,184 miles of streams and rivers, more than 4,000 lakes, reservoirs, and ponds, and 120 miles of coastal waters, according to Penn State University.

Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Pennsylvania will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the Commonwealth, as previously reported.

“Knowledge is the great equalizer,” said Landrieu.

Additional money en route to Pennsylvania for infrastructure investments includes funds set for $11.3 billion for the federal highway program over the next five years and  $2.8 billion for public transportation — like the Coatesville Train Station, which will again become an Amtrak station upon the project’s completion. The station has been closed for nearly three decades, for 29 years come 2025.

The new station is being built to improve Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility for people and provide level boarding platforms, elevators, ramps, site lighting and security, improved drainage, and surface parking for local and regional commuters, as previously reported. Further, the revival of the Coatesville Train Station will enhance multimodal connectivity and strengthen freight movements.

“I’m happy to see not only the funding of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill but the commitment for Coatesville and the surrounding area,” said Williams, state representative, who attend Wednesday’s event at the train station.

“Having Mitch Landrieu, the president’s infrastructure advisor, Governor Wolf and our Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan come in for this event shows the dedication of the federal government,” Williams said on Wednesday evening. “I will continue to coordinate at the state level to keep things moving forward with the train station, Route 30 improvements and other much needed infrastructure projects.”

Located 39 miles west of Philadelphia, 13,350 people live in the City of Coatesville.

A city centered within a valley, Coatesville is home to 100-year-old stormwater infrastructure that compounded the impact of Ida to the community one-year ago on September 1, 2021. Nearly all the people displaced from the tropical storm were renters.

During the event at the Coatesville Train Station on August 24 Gramian, Pennsylvania’s transportation secretary, said good infrastructure builds stronger communities.

Gramian said the steel being used for the revitalization of the Coatesville Train Station was being rebuilt with American-made steel.

She said billions in Infrastructure Investment Act funds are en route to Pennsylvania.

The work being done in Pennsylvania for transportation is critical, truly transformational and a game changer, Gramian said.

“And that’s what’s being done in Coatesville,” she said.

Dignitaries united in the city Wednesday morning to celebrate transportation investment in Coatesville City where the train station revival is underway. The station has been closed since 1996. The revamped station is set to open in 2025. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
City police, including Coatesville Chief of Police Jack Laufer III (right) join Amtrak police, including this K-9 officer at the press conference at the city train station on Wednesday. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
Coatesville City Council President Linda Lavender-Norris delivers remarks. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
White House Senior Advisor Mitch Landrieu, infrastructure coordinator speaks in Coatesville at the train station, currently undergoing a $65 revival, on Wednesday. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
Secretary Yassmin Gramian of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, attends the press conference. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
State Rep. Dan Williams, D-74th, of Sadsbury attends a public event celebrating the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Act in the City of Coatesville on August 24. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th of Easttown, tours work underway at the Coatesville Train Station on Wednesday as Gov. Tom Wolf and state Rep. Dan Williams, D-74th, of Sadsbury follow her toward the podium. (JEN SAMUEL — DAILY LOCAL NEWS)

 

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