Thirteen projects receive remaining trail funds

Last week we reported that the region’s trail funding future is uncertain, in part because the $10 million grant that the William Penn Foundation dedicated to trail building three years ago has been allocated. This week the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), which has distributed the $10 million through its Regional Trails Porgram, officially announced which trails will receive the last $4 million of that $10 million trail funding.

In Philadelphia $60,000 will go toward the Manayunk Bridge Trail, $300,000 will go to the Tacony/Holmesburg Gap Waterfront Trail and $275,000 will go to the Cobbs Creek Connector Trail. The remainder of the $4 million will be spent throughout the region with projects in eight of the nine counties DVRPC represents.

The 13 projects that received funding as a part of the third and final round of grants funded by the William Penn Foundation’s $10 million regional trail building grant include:

Burlington County Department of Resource Conservation – Kinkora Trail: Mansfield Community Park Connector – $500,000 – Burlington County 

Delaware River Port Authority – Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway Bicycle and Pedestrian Ramp – $400,000 – Camden County 

Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation – Lawrence Hopewell Trail: Carter Road East and West – $250,000 – Mercer County

Bucks TMA – Route 13-Green Lane Trail Connector – $249,000 – Bucks County 

Chalfont Borough – Neshaminy Creek Greenway Design and Engineering –$188,768 – Bucks County 

Phoenixville Borough – Phoenixville Schuylkill River Trail: Phase 2 – $365,000 – Chester County 

Delaware County – Darby Creek Stream Valley Park Trail – $500,000 – Delaware County 

Haverford Township – Newtown Square Rail Trail – $340,000 – Delaware County 

Cheltenham Township – Tookany Creek Trail: Phase III – $400,000 – Montgomery County 

Lansdale Borough – Lansdale Liberty Bell Trail – $160,840 – Montgomery County 

Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities – Manayunk Bridge Trail 

Construction Engineering Services – $60,000 – Montgomery County and Philadelphia 

Delaware River City Corporation – Tacony/Holmesburg Gap Waterfront Trail Design and Engineering – $300,000 – Philadelphia 

Philadelphia Parks and Recreation – Cobbs Creek Connector Trail – $275,000 – Philadelphia 

Interim Wiliam Penn Foundation President Helen Davis Picher said the results of the $10 million grant have been remarkable. To date, the grant has moved 40 miles of trails forward, helped leverage significant additional funds and create momentum around the idea of a connected, regional network – The Circuit.

Picher said the foundation was surprised to see how many trail projects sought a portion of the $10 million. In the last three years, the requests for funding surpassed $28 million.

“It’s clear there are many more trails ripe for development,” Picher said.

Despite Picher’s acknowledgement of the success of and need for trail funding, the William Penn Foundation does not have plans to make another $10 million grant dedicated solely to trail funding. The foundation will continue to support trail development but is shifting its strategies for doing so. Andrew Johnson, a senior program officer at the William Penn Foundation, said hopefully the region will create a dedicated source of trail funding – in a sense picking up where the William Penn Foundation left off.

Johnson is not alone in that thinking. The Circuit Coalition is advocating for a portion of the region’s transportation budget to be set aside for trail development and plans to make a formal request before the DVRPC board sometime early this coming year. 

Benjamin Franklin Bridge South Walkway Bicycle and Pedestrian Ramp Project

DVRPC announced the latest grant recipients in Camden, where they took a moment to acknowledge one project in particular – the bicycle and pedestrian ramp being built on the Camden side of the Ben Franklin Bridge. The new, ADA-compliant ramp will replace the steep set of stairs that makes it difficult – if not impossible – for cyclists and handicapped pedestrians to access the bridge.

As part of this latest, $4 million round of trail funding grants, the ramp project received $400,000, and Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), which operates the bridge, will match the grant with more than $3 million from other sources.

“It’s been our mission for many, many years to provide transportation across the bridge and across the river to both Camden and Philadelphia,” said Tim Pulte, chief operating officer at DRPA.

The bridge is one of just two pedestrian and bicycle connections across the Delaware River in the Philadelphia area, and bicycle and pedestrian counts have varied from 300 to 700 daily users. When the ramp is in place, it will help facilitate connection between regional trails on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the river and enhance a critical piece of The Circuit.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015. 

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