Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 5:42 AM
After 100 years of watching trains pass without stopping, Philadelphia Zoo officials are trying to restore passenger rail service to the zoo.
A new study proposes a SEPTA station at 34th Street and Mantua Avenue
, a short walk from the zoo's south entrance.
Although the zoo was built on its West Philadelphia site in 1874 partly because of handy rail access, the original Zoological Garden station at 34th Street and Girard Avenue closed in 1902, a victim of Pennsylvania Railroad expansion.
Now, congested highway access and limited parking have convinced zoo leaders that a new train station would increase attendance and ease traffic.
Kenneth Woodson, the zoo's vice president of community and government affairs, said the zoo would "pursue aggressively" a new train station.
A new station, with rail platforms, elevators and stairways, and requisite environmental work and track relocation, could cost about $60 million, said architect Robert P. Thomas, an author of the new rail feasibility study for the zoo.
Thomas and other planners also looked at putting the train station by the zoo's main entrance on 34th and Girard, where the original station was. But that could cost about $200 million because of the challenges of trying to build amid the converging Amtrak and SEPTA rail lines there, he said.