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A Philadelphia SEPTA station closed last month because of piles of trash and pervasive drug use will reopen next week, with police officers patrolling the area.
The transit agency said the Somerset Station in Kensington will reopen April 5, after a two-week closure deemed necessary “to address emergency safety, security and infrastructure issues.”
“Emergency maintenance and repair work was needed throughout the station to mitigate damage from urination, human waste, discarded needles and other debris,” SEPTA said in a press release.
The transit agency said previously that so many needles and so much urine had gotten into the elevators at the station on the Market-Frankford line that they broke. Work to fix those elevators will likely continue past April 5, SEPTA said.
Over the last two weeks, SEPTA said it has reinforced structures like stairs and passenger crossovers, as well as installed “enhanced” lighting and new signage.
When the station reopens, SEPTA Transit Police officers will be assigned at the location, which will now also have a “street-level police booth.” In addition, 60 security guards will be added to the Market-Frankford line by next week.
The closure of the station drew mixed reaction from some residents who rely on the transit service. Though they agreed it presented health and safety hazards, they’ve called on city leaders to address underlying issues of poverty and drug use in the dilapidated neighborhood.
“We need to make sure to address the problems that led to the closure in the first place, or else once it opens, it’s just going to close again,” said Bill McKinney, executive director of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.
SEPTA said it will take similar steps as it did in the Somerset Station at other stations. It has already sent inspectors to the Allegheny Station, which has been plagued with similar dirty and unsafe conditions.