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Spruce Street will be closed to traffic between 40th and 42nd streets from now until May 4, due to SEPTA's Trolley Track Renewal Project. Credit: Roger Ge

Penn’s Division of Public Safety announced that Spruce Street will be closed to traffic due to SEPTA’s Trolley Track Renewal Project. 

Spruce Street will be closed between 40th and 42nd streets from March 18 to May 4 due to the renewal project, which involves the excavation and renewal of corroded and broken rail. SEPTA advised that drivers and delivery vehicles can expect travel delays, restricted vehicular traffic access in work areas, and closures on side streets near the construction site. DPS has advised students to consider alternative routes to get to campus and other destinations. 

Nursing junior Yeng Shao, who lives in the affected area, expressed concern with the blocked streets. 

“As a nursing major, this creates difficulties because I have clinicals early in the morning,” she told The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Sometimes, I need to order a cab to my clinical placements, so now I will have to wake up, leave, and order a driver earlier to accommodate for delays.”  

During construction, detour signage will redirect drivers around the closure and the Route 42 bus will remain detoured to 43rd Street.  

SEPTA outlined the expected benefits of the project on their website. 

“The new components and paving should result in fewer vibrations and a smoother ride for trolleys and vehicular traffic,” they wrote in a press bulletin on March 14. 

To meet updated track construction guidelines, the current track structure will be replaced with “new rail encased in a rubber boot,” according to SEPTA’s website. The installation of new concrete, asphalt, and line painting — resulting in a new street surface — were among other benefits. 

Surrounding streets will remain unaffected by construction and drivers will continue to have access to areas east of 40th Street on Spruce Street. Additionally, southbound traffic on 40th Street and traffic in both directions on 42nd Street will remain fully accessible. 

Credit: Ian Zuckerman

From March 18 to May 4, the route 42 trolley will be diverted eastbound onto Locust Street and westbound onto Pine Street. 

Pedestrians will have access to businesses, while emergency vehicles, trash collection, and other city utility services will have uninterrupted access to streets within the construction site during their closure. 

Normal construction hours are expected to be from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, but SEPTA advises that residents should anticipate occasional extended work hours and weekend work. 

SEPTA also warned of potential water leakage due to the city’s aging infrastructure and the work required to renovate the trolley track. Should leaks occur, the Philadelphia Water Department will be immediately notified and will address the issues accordingly.

Shao shared her hopes for a quick and efficient renovation. 

“I truly hope that they stay within the time frame and stick to their deadlines. In the past, construction has taken longer than previously stated, but sometimes they surprise you by finishing earlier than anticipated, so you never know,” she told the DP. 

For more information, Penn’s Division of Public Safety suggests referring to or calling customer service at 215-580-7800.