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GRCA Receives Grant for Franklin Street, Reading Passenger Rail Station Planning

by Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $142,346 for its Franklin Street Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Planning Process. State Sen. Judy Schwank Thursday outlined the Local Share Account Funding projects with this specific award coming from Category 4 licensed gaming revenues.

“We are thrilled to receive these funds as we continue to work with our public and private sector partners to lay the groundwork for restoration of passenger rail service to the City and County,” said Jim Gerlach, President & CEO, GRCA. “And we especially appreciate the great leadership of Sen. Schwank and her State House colleagues in supporting this initiative. They fully understand the importance of rail restoration and the monumental economic growth opportunities it presents.”

In addition to Sen. Schwank’s support, the project garnered support from Rep. Manny Guzman, Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz and Rep. Mark Rozzi, who all represent parts of Reading. The funding, which was from the Commonwealth Financing Authority, was a part of the $4.62 million awarded to various projects in the 11th Senatorial District.

The focus of the Franklin Street Transit-Oriented Development Strategic Plan is to formulate the best and most appropriate course of action to support the redevelopment and revitalization of residential, commercial and industrial properties within the neighborhoods adjacent to the train station. This process is being undertaken by the Franklin Street Working Group, comprised of representatives from GRCA, City of Reading, Berks County Government, Berks Alliance, Berks County Community Foundation, South Central Transit Authority, and Franklin Street business owners. This funding will enable the city of Reading to properly plan for future revitalization and growth in the most appropriate and timely manner.

The reestablishment of an intercity passenger rail system has the potential to bring over $1.4 billion in income generation, over $1 billion economic development, nearly $1 billion in tax revenue, and 28,000 person years of work. The Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority is also in the process of applying to the Federal Rail Administration’s Corridor Identification and Development Program, which will direct billions in funding to develop intercity passenger rail services with the goal to reconnect underserved communities.