Pluto or new trolleys? 7 Philly projects that cost about the same as NASA’s epic trip

Pluto Reading

Earlier this week, we gawked in amazement at the pictures of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft a mere 7,700 miles away from it. The trip cost about $720 million to fund. It sounds like a lot, but Philadelphia could do it, easily. The city, SEPTA and the management of the Phillies and Eagles have spent about that much money or more on seemingly mundane activities. In fact, a trailblazing rail line to Reading would have cost twice as much as the trailblazing trip to Pluto.

Here are seven projects proposed or initiated in Philadelphia that compare to the cost of NASA’s Pluto excursion.

SEPTA Trolley modernization: $713.5 million

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City pension costs in the current budget: $687 million


Renovation and expansion of the PHL Airport: $6.4 billion

Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center: $722 million combined ($512 million for the Linc and $210 million for the Wells Fargo Center)

The proposed SEPTA rail line to King of Prussia: $650 million

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Lost water costs in the next 15 years because of leaky pipes: $750 million

water infrastructure

A proposed (and later rejected) high-speed transit line to Reading: $1-$1.5 billion


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