Manayunk Towpath rehabilitation to begin this summer

Bikers, joggers and walkers, take note: Parts of the Manayunk Towpath will be closed periodically this summer. The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation is rehabilitating the 2.2-mile path between Lock Street and Shawmont Avenue, which will start around mid-year and take about three to four months to complete.

Parks & Recreation announced this construction at a public meeting on Tuesday, where it also discussed the upcoming dredging of the Manayunk Canal.

Rob Armstrong, the Department’s preservation and development specialist, explained that two-inch stone screenings will replace the Towpath’s existing stones. “The problem with the stones now is that most of them are washed away, it’s kind of almost like dirt,” he explained.

Most of the path won’t be paved, except for the approaches toward the bridges and a small area near Leverington Avenue. Porous asphalt will also go down from the end of the Towpath, near the ruins of Shawmont Pumping Station, to an area near the SEPTA tracks. Also, a new concrete wall will go up in place of the old timber wall just south of Leverington Avenue. And all of the bridges northwest of Leverington Avenue — four in total — will be repaired.

The boardwalk just north of Cotton Street between Green Lane, however, will remain unchanged because, Armstrong says, “It’s in pretty good shape.”

Armstrong added that the contractors will be performing erosion and sedimentation controls during construction.

At the meeting, some attendants were upset that the Towpath’s rehabilitation will take place during the prime months for biking and jogging. “We’ll try to keep as much of it open as possible,” replied Armstrong, adding that his hands are tied because state funding for the project stipulates that it be done this year. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is providing $400,000 for the project.

He said that Parks & Recreation will alert people to the fact that the Towpath is closed through signs and community outreach.

Another member of the crowd asked how the project might affect rogue trails on the Towpath.

“Once we do improvements, we’re hoping that people will stop using the rogue trails,” Armstrong said.

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