The city recently celebrated the opening of two new trails, the Penn Street Trail and the 58th Street Greenway. The Penn Street Trail runs along the Delaware River and will part of a continuous 5-mile path that wil be called the Delaware Waterfront Trail. The 58th Street Greenway is part of the East Coast Greenway, and it helps to connect Cobb’s Creek to the Schuylkill River. These trails are both part of the Circuit, the regional network of pedestrian and bicycle trails. The Circuit Coalition is an advocacy group aiming to connect the network so that at least 50% of the region’s population will be within a mile of a trail by the time the Circuit is complete. The Coalition held a meeting last night (June 17th) to discuss the current status of trails on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, during which they also talked about planned trails.
The number of new trails in the region that are under construction or planned is impressive. In Philadelphia alone, 17 new trails are either in progress or slated to be built according to their high priority status in Philadelphia Trail Master Plan. If you travel over the South Street Bridge, you may have noticed one of the projects that is already underway: the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, which will connect the bridge and the Schuylkill River Trail’s current southern terminus at Locust Street. Another trail that’s in the works is the Manayunk Bridge Trail, which is scheduled to be completed in 2014 and will connect to the Cynwyd Trail in Lower Merion Township. Some trails are still in the conceptual stage, such as the Penn Treaty-Richmond Trail, which would run along the Delaware in a currently undeveloped section of the waterfront.
Filling in the gaps along the trails is important in order to create a complete network of trails for the benefit of all residents of the Greater Philadelphia area. The Circuit Coalition’s goal is to make it so that no matter where you are in the region, you will be able to get somewhere else on a trail. They are well on their way to constructing 750 miles of interconnected trails, but more funding is needed in order to complete the Circuit. You can help connect the Circuit by signing this online petition, sending a postcard or letter of support to the city/your county’s commissioners, or by becoming a member of the Circuit Coalition.