Completing the Schuylkill River Trail

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By Brandon Gollotti
For PlanPhilly

Last night at the Academy of Natural Sciences, several speakers presented to the public an updated status report on extending the Schuylkill River Trail connections through Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery Counties.

The purpose of the presentation last night, according to Sarah Clark Stuart, the co-coordinator of Schuylkill River Park Alliance and member of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, was to “show the public and elected officials the opportunities that are available with access to these trails.”

Map of in the potential trail network.

Although there are numerous economic and environmental benefits with a completed trail, that could eventually connect Philadelphia International Airport to Pottstown through a green transportation corridor via bike paths and running trails, the largest obstacle is funding. Currently there are nine trail segments, each at varying planning and design stages, that need financial support before they are completed. Stuart says that completing the various segments is only a “matter of time of funding.”

The total gap in funding is approximately $21,770,000.

Conceptual view of the Boardwalk segment of the Schuylkill River Trail.

The most expensive trail segment, estimated at $10,000,000, is located between Locust Street and South Street and would connect the trail through a man-made boardwalk. While this project is the most expensive of all the trail segments that need funding, the Boardwalk is furthest along in its development phase. This section is past its preliminary design and work on getting the appropriate permits to begin construction is under way.

Despite the large financial gap, the Schuylkill River Trail is receiving support from the local municipalities that the trail affects. Earlier in the day, Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution that called for elected officials to support the trail and make it a priority to fund the construction because of the economic boost that the trail can create.

“Given the economic environment of today,” Stuart says, “it is hard to say” when exactly the trail will be completed. However, Stuart hopes that new federal funding will help fill some of the gap and support the construction of remaining segments.

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