Manayunk Canal renovations show promise for nature and neighbors

     The path along the Manayunk Canal haas seen several improvements in the last couple of years. (William R. Tschanz)

    The path along the Manayunk Canal haas seen several improvements in the last couple of years. (William R. Tschanz)

    I have seen quite a lot of fanfare about the new renovated Manayunk Bridge Trail opening. There is so much more to digest regarding the full picture of the Manayunk Canal renaissance that has been and still is evolving into a true gem for this area of Philly.

    I have been utilizing the canal path since the renaissance started in Manayunk, when a storefront on Main Street could be had for $2,500 and the trail along the canal was overgrown with invasive plant life. In the past few years I have been a witness to the changes orchestrated for the improvement of the canal path that most might not have noticed.

    The canal path has been widened and resurfaced, and a fence has been installed along the canal side of the trail, physical attributes easily recognizable to the many new users of the trail. On the trail with my Belgian Shepard dog three times a week, walking 1.74 miles from Green Lane trail head to the Shawmont Avenue trail head, and then back again, I have observed the horticulturists sculpting the plant life and rejuvenating the natural environment that once flourished along the canal. They have replaced invasive species with indigenous plants, prompting the return of many creatures to this natural habitat.

    manayunk-canal 1200x675A section of the Manayunk Canal under renovation. (William R. Tschanz)

    A few weeks ago, I noticed a group of workers in the canal collecting recently planted indiginous foliage that still carried the color-coded ribbons identifying the species. I thought it odd at first, but then I saw the survey pegs delineating the new canal waterway that has started at the locks and is now continuing down the canal toward Green Lane. They are setting up a blocking partition to hold back the water, and large pumps to drain a section at a time. They then lay out a temporary path for the heavy iron used to dig out the canal bed. Workers with nets save any canal inhabitants affected by the drop in water level.

    During one of my treks along the canal trial, I saw an SUV vehicle parked at the renovation site for the building at Leverington and Main streets with markings for a Kayak outfitters and rental company. Another time, I came upon four individuals at the location of the Manayunk Canal locks. They were wearing khaki pants and had pocket protectors on their shirts. These are sure signs of the renovations to the locks allowing a new hydraulic passage for fresh water from the Schuylkill River.

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