Philadelphia trail linking Schuylkill and Delaware rivers closer to taking shape

A bicyclist is shown from behind biking in a bike lane as cars go by them.

File photo: A man rides his bike on Spring Garden Street in 2019. (Courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia)

A long-awaited recreational path is one step closer to becoming a reality for bikers and walkers from Philadelphia and beyond.

Thanks to a $1 million grant from the state, Philadelphia now has enough funding to complete a final design for the Spring Garden Street Greenway. When it opens, the roughly two-mile corridor will provide safe passage between the Schuylkill River Trail and the Delaware River Trail.

The new route will also improve access to the Circuit Trails and the East Coast Greenway, which connects 15 states from Maine to Florida.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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The project will overhaul the section of Spring Garden Street that runs from Pennsylvania Avenue near Kelly Drive to Delaware Avenue, not far from Girard Avenue.

The existing bike lanes now painted on either side of the street will be transformed into raised and protected recreational paths. The work will also involve redoing the signals at 22 intersections, with the goal of improving the flow of traffic.

“By enhancing the entire street to be accustomed to the concerns of all users, it provides multiple benefits. And it’s going to improve the connections and experience for residents who are living in the neighborhoods originally inspired by the street,” said Clark Stuart.

The final design process, which will include extensive community engagement, will cost a total of $5 million. That includes: $2.1 million from the William Penn Foundation; $1.4 million from the City of Philadelphia; $500,000 from PennDOT; and $1 million from the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Cindy Adams Dunn, who leads DCNR, said the project will help combat climate change, improving the quality of life for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists.

“Part of the solution is changing our transportation modes a bit. Getting more people out on foot and on bike will really help ease carbon pollution in the air, but also congestion and all the things that come along with that,” said Adams Dunn.

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Construction on the Spring Garden Street Greenway is expected to start in the next five years.

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