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Transitioning to TOD: A Transit-Oriented Development Plan For SEPTA's Wawa Station On The R3 Regional Plan

This document, Transitioning to TOD: A Transit-Oriented Development Plan for SEPTA R3 Wawa, grew out of the work done on Linking Transit, Communities, and Development: Regional Inventory of Transit-Oriented Development Sites, which was published in 2003. The regional inventory identified a priority list of 45 TOD opportunity sites that support the goals and policies of DVRPC’s Destination 2030 long-range plan. Although not included in the 2003 report, the reopening Wawa R3 Regional Rail station was selected as the focus of this study because its location offers tremendous new possibilities for transit-oriented development. Recommendations included in this document cover such areas as land use, zoning, comprehensive plans, access management, and development opportunities. This study is oriented toward an asset-based approach that aims to identify and capitalize on the existing strengths of the surrounding communities, specifically Middletown Township and Chester Heights Borough.

Executive Summary

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) has produced several studies and station area plans that support transit-oriented development (TOD) in its nine-county region. By encouraging development around rail and bus facilities, DVRPC hopes to bring new investment to established communities, while also promoting increased transit ridership.

This document includes a TOD plan for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) pending reopening of the Wawa rail station in Chester Heights Borough, Delaware County. Prior to 1986, SEPTA’s R3 Regional Rail line extended west from Center City Philadelphia to West Chester in Chester County. Today the R3 line ends at Elwyn station in Middletown Township, Delaware County. In the 21 years that have elapsed since SEPTA discontinued rail service beyond Elwyn, western Delaware County has experienced significant population and job growth.

SEPTA currently plans to reinstate R3 Regional Rail service between the Elwyn and Wawa stations by 2011. The Wawa station is located in a growing area that offers excellent opportunities for TOD. Wooded and agricultural lands, the former headquarters of the Franklin Mint, and Wawa Dairy Farms Inc.’s headquarter offices all surround the station site. The return of Regional Rail service, together with Wawa Dairy’s continued presence as a major employer in this area, could help stimulate the redevelopment of some of these properties with transit-supportive uses.

This report provides an array of recommendations to help guide future growth and development in the vicinity of the Wawa station site. These recommendations cover areas including, but not limited to, land use, comprehensive planning, zoning, development opportunities, and access management. The framework of this case study is oriented toward an asset-based approach that aims to identify and capitalize on the existing strengths of the surrounding communities, specifically Middletown Township and Chester Heights Borough.