Stimulus spent in record time, SEPTA wants more


Three years after SEPTA received $191 million under the economic stimulus program signed by President Barack Obama, all 32 projects have been completed, including upgrades to key stations, vital track work and the purchase of new hybrid buses.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was intended to spur job creation through “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects. SEPTA attributed the quick turnaround to planning by its staff, noting that all 54 contracts were signed within the first year.

“We got the contracts out there awarded quickly. The bulk of that spending was all within that first year, year and a half, as was our completing the projects,” said Bob Lund, SEPTA’s program manager for stimulus projects. “Thirty-two projects is a lot.”

The funding helped upgrade some parts of the system in dire need, including improvements on the Broad Street Line at Girard and Spring Garden stations, where new entrances, walls, floors and elevators were installed. The project modernized stations that were built between 1928 and 1932.

“They were really quite successful in getting funding and getting prepared in getting jobs out the door,” said Dick Voith, who specializes in transportation as senior vice president and principal of Econsult Corp. “They really did everything right.”

The Federal Transit Administration could not say how many transit agencies have completed their projects, but as of March 31, only 41 percent of all stimulus-funded work had been completed. Another 45 percent was more than halfway finished.

Lund said the projects directly resulted in 3,160 construction jobs, although he could not say how many of those were “new” jobs. Voith, a former SEPTA board member, estimates the economic impact was much greater.

“Given the fact that SEPTA managed to spend that much money quickly in an industry that has a lot of suppliers around here … I think that 3000-job number is a woeful underestimation,” he said.

Turning success into more cash

SEPTA is hopeful its workmanlike pace in using the stimulus funds will improve its chance to receive additional federal funding.

“We have demonstrated to the state and federal government, as well as the local entities, that if given the opportunity and the funding we can effectively and efficiently execute projects in a timely manner,” Lund said.

Last year, SEPTA received a $2.2 million competitive grant from the FTA for the Parkside Bus Loop, which Lund attributed to SEPTA’s track record.

Federal transit officials would not comment on how SEPTA’s stimulus work might affect future funding opportunities, but acknowledged their good work.

“[SEPTA] put more than $191 million to good use on projects that will improve the reliability, accessibility, and safety of its system for riders,” FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff said via e-mail.


Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.


Report: Rich New Yorkers don't move from NYC…

An Independent Budget Office analysis found that the wealthiest residents don't move out of the city any more or less than other New Yorkers.


Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…


Food truck with a mission hires at-risk New…

A group branding itself as food trucks for social justice specifically hires and trains young men and women with troubled pasts.


Scarlett Johansson on 'Lucy':' 'I guess I’m the…

Scarlett Johansson continues her foray into action movies with thriller “Lucy”, admitting it’s been an unexpected adventure.


Review: Liking Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'…

Woody Allen's latest, "Magic in the Moonlight," concerns a magician (Colin Firth) trying to debunk an alleged psychic (Emma Stone).


Piano from 'Casablanca' up for sale at auction

An iconic piano featured in Rick's Cafe Americain in the 1942 Hollywood classic "Casablanca" is expected to be the highlight of a sale of film…


Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks more accessible than Animal…

Believe it or not, Avey Tare — the man in the mustachioed mask pictured here in the pool of blood — may have made the poppiest music of his career.


5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.


'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.


Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report


Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.


Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.


Ruling could be beginning of the end for…

This morning, a federal appeals court threw out an IRS regulation that implements subsidies for low-income Americans who bought insurance through Obamacare. These Affordable Care…


RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."


Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…