High-spirited hikers have long been able to make the trek from Maine to Florida on the Appalachian Trail. But with a new walking and biking trail in the works along the East Coast, Philadelphians could soon journey along the Atlantic in a whole new way.
The wheels are turning on the Spring Garden Street Greenway after the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced a $1 million grant for completion of the walking and biking path in Philadelphia.
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn announced the grant funding last Friday, noting that it will help the commonwealth reach its goal of bringing a trail within 10 miles of every resident.
“This project will serve all Philadelphia residents by providing a safe, walkable/bikeable route across town and connecting all to the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, the East Coast Greenway, SEPTA stations, businesses, schools and more,” Dunn said.
The Spring Garden Street Greenway is a 2.1-mile walking and biking path that is part of the larger East Coast Greenway. The ECG, which is still under development, will be a 3,000-mile, traffic-separated biking and walking route which links 25 cities from Maine to Florida.
Philadelphia’s portion of the ECG crosses through Center City via Spring Garden Street and will link the Schuylkill River Trail to the Delaware River Trail.
The project, which has been in planning since 2009, will also receive $2.1 million from the William Penn Foundation, $1.4 million from the City of Philadelphia and $500,000 from the state Department of Transportation. Philadelphia also added the project to the federal Transportation Improvement Program, which helped allocate an additional $26 million for Phase I of construction.
With funding in place for the final design and first phase of construction, the trail's expected to be completed within the next five years.
Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said the design plans changed over time, going from a bike path to a major overhaul of Spring Garden Street.
“It was accelerated as it sort of evolved from just a trail-only project to a complete street project. Now it includes upgrades for all the signals and the stormwater infrastructure to make it greener (and) it includes bump-outs for pedestrians across the street,” Stuart told City & State. “So, by broadening its scope and scale, the City of Philadelphia was able to then make the case that this would deserve to be bigger and that helped bring the other partners to help fund the design of the project.”
Once complete, people will be able to take their bikes north to Trenton, New York City and Boston, or south to Wilmington, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The trail will be part of the city’s network of more than 800 miles of circuit trails.
“The William Penn Foundation has supported greenways and trails for many years to connect people to green spaces and to our region’s waterways,” Shawn McCaney, executive director of the William Penn Foundation, said. “Our commitment to that important work continues with an investment of more than $2 million toward this transformative project, which will connect Philadelphia’s two beautiful riverfronts, and will do so incorporating green stormwater infrastructure that will help keep those rivers clean for the long term.”