The Schuylkill River Heritage Area Board of Directors recently announced Silas A. Chamberlin of Allentown, Pa., as the new executive director to lead the National and State Heritage Area. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area celebrates the Shuylkill River watershed as one of America's most significant cultural, historical and industrial regions. Silas previously served as regional director for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR). Prior to that, he served as senior director for the Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Corridor.
While Chamberlin’s projected start date is May 4, current executive director since 2003, Kurt D. Zwikl won’t retire until June 30, allowing for a two-month transition period.
Chamberlin was selected as executive director through an extensive search that began last fall and was conducted by a search committee of the board, in conjunction with executive search firm Leadership Recruiters. He has published numerous articles on the subject of trails and currently has a book manuscript entitled On the Trail: A History of American Hiking, under review for publication. He also has served on Pennsylvania's Statewide Trails Advisory Committee and as an advisor to numerous regional trail organizations.
We are pleased to have Silas Chamberlin formally back with the Circuit Coalition!
Philadelphia was recently ranked the 10th most bike-friendly city based on the percentage of commuters who bike to work, the number of on-bike fatalities and ongoing infrastructure improvements to support bikers, according to survey results from BetterDoctor.
Some interesting statistics revealed the following: approximately 2.14 percent of Philadelphia’s commuters bike to work; there are 2.3 fatalities per 10,000 commuters; the city’s federal transportation funds obligated to bike and pedestrian projects are $6.91 per capita; and Philadelphia has an overall biking score of 57.21 out of 100.
The top five cities for biking included Portland, Ore.; Washington D.C.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Oakland, Calif.; and Sacramento, Calif.
Find more data results at the Philadelphia Business Journal
The Pennsylvania Recreation & Park Society (PRPS) recently awarded Lardner’s Point Park the 2015 Green Park Award. Tom Branigan, Executive Director of the Delaware River City Corp., attended the luncheon earlier this week to accept the award. Other DRCC members in attendance were Jim Donaghy, Jim Fries, Mariann Dempsey and Patrick Starr. The luncheon was part of the PRPS 68th Annual State Conference.
The Green Park Award recognizes excellence in the public park community for those that demonstrate the integration of green and sustainable park practices based upon the following criteria: Site Location and Site Design, Water, Natural Landscaping, Materials Selection and Construction, Connect People to Nature, Operations and Maintenance, and Environmental Stewardship Messaging.
Lardner’s Point – recipient of the 2015 Green Park Award – is a major trailhead for the North Delaware Riverfront Greenway Trail, part of the Circuit. The park provides space to walk, bicycle, and relax along a very scenic stretch of the Delaware just below the iconic Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Visitors fish from the pier, picnic at handicap-accessible tables, observe wildlife, and traverse a multi-use path through native meadows.
Congratulations Lardner’s Point Park!
Last week 250 involved citizens, many of them arriving on bikes or on foot, joined together for the Better Mobility 2015 Mayoral Forum, organized by the Better Mobility Work Group. Mayor Nutter has long been a proponent for bike lanes and multi-use trails, support which has helped catalyze efforts to develop the Circuit in the region, yet the arrival of a new Mayor raises questions.
Will the new Mayor support cycling infrastructure, pedestrian accommodations, traffic enforcement and the other agenda items that make this city safe for cyclists and walkers alike? Will the new Mayor support "Vision Zero," the idea that traffic fatalities can be eliminated through better planning and design? Will the Circuit find support from the next Mayor?
The forum indicated that, perhaps, the new mayor will be forced by public demand to continue the trend of support for forward-thinking mobility efforts. While specific thoughts and opinions varied widely among candidates, overall every candidate pointed to mobility issues as important for the city (including the neighborhoods) and pointed to the bikability and walkability of the city as a key amenity.
Check out the Bicycle Coalition’s website to learn more about the forum and read the region’s press coverage of the event.
It may be snowing in Philadelphia today, but this week the city got a huge dose of sunshine from the William Penn Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The two came together in Fairmount Park’s beautiful Horticultural Center to announce an $11 million grant to the Fairmount Park Conservancy that’s all about “Reimagining the Civic Commons.” The grant will leverage public and other private dollars to develop five public space projects in the city, including the Bartram’s Mile trail project. Part of the Circuit, Bartram’s Mile is a trail and greenway project, by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Schuylkill River Development Corporation, along the lower Schuylkill River that will transform industrial brownfields into an urban park.
The Circuit plays a critical role in this new Civic Commons work, as the region’s trail network will be a primary conduit for connecting these five public spaces and opening access to them for residents from all parts of the city. Here’s what William Penn’s Shawn McCaney (Creative Communities Program Director) had to say: “Philadelphia’s momentum is palpable. Because of its beautiful public spaces and civic assets, the city is increasingly recognized as a world-class destination for visitors and tourists. The Civic Commons initiative is designed to bring high-quality amenities, like the ones placing Philadelphia on a world stage, to all of our residents, especially those in our most underserved communities. And by connecting many of these destinations through the Circuit, we promote social and community inclusion within and between neighborhoods across the city, unite neighborhoods that presently may stand alone, and work to ensure that Philadelphia is, indeed, a place for all Philadelphians.”
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is now accepting applications for Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) projects in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer Counties. Bicycle and Pedestrian projects such as trails are eligible for CMAQ funds.
DVRPC will be accepting CMAQ Program applications from January 9, 2015 until 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, April 9, 2015. A mandatory information session for applicants will be held at 4:00 P.M. on January 28, 2015 in the DVRPC Conference Room, 190 N. Independence Mall West, 8th Fl., Philadelphia, PA 19106.
For more details on program guidance as well as submitting an application visit the DVRPC CMAQ web page.
300 miles are now complete
The Circuit grew in 2014 through the opening of the following trails:
Eleven Ribbon Cuttings/Trail Openings
Number of Viewers/Readers Reached:
**Huffington Post Viewership: 54,657,952**
Estimated Advertising Value:
**Does not include Huffington Post advertising value**
*All readership, unique viewers and advertising equivalency numbers are estimates based on the best available data
50 Miles in Progress
Circuit Trails in the 9 county region were awarded $13.2 million in federal, state and local funding.
400 Miles to Go
We expect the following trails in the coming years to open:
In what we can honestly say is the final trail groundbreaking of the year, Upper Merion Township officials held a ceremony on December 11th in Heuser Park for the first segment on the Schuylkill River West Trail. Hueser Park is located at the foot of Geerdes Boulevard only a few blocks downhill from PennDOT's District 6-0 offices.
The trail will span 2.2 miles from Heuser Park to Valley Forge NHP at an existing trail underpass at Route 422 near the future Sullivan's Bridge. The vision for the Schuyllkill River West Trail will run all the way to Martin Luther King Drive in Philadelphia creating a 30 mile loop, however at this time the trail is only conceptual in Bridgeport, West Conshocken, Lower Merion and Philadelphia.
REGION’S TRAIL NETWORK, THE CIRCUIT, GETS MAJOR BOOST FOR TRAIL COMPLETION,
AWARENESS-BUILDING FROM WILLIAM PENN FOUNDATION
New Urban Trails to Increase Access to Greater Philadelphia’s Waterways
PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 15, 2014) – The region’s trail network, known as the Circuit, has received a significant boost toward further trail completion, awareness-building and bettering public access to Philadelphia’s waterways with new funding from the William Penn Foundation. The grants, totaling $8.6 million, will leverage the work of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which are members of the Circuit Coalition. When complete, the Circuit will include 750 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails connecting people to jobs, communities, waterways and parks in the Greater Philadelphia region. To date, more than 300 miles of the network have been built.
“The Circuit’s hundreds of miles of trails create vital opportunities to dramatically increase public access to Greater Philadelphia’s waterways and will serve as key elements for engaging and connecting urban communities to these natural resources,” said Andrew Johnson, director of the Watershed Protection Program for the Foundation. Johnson added that most of the unbuilt trail miles in urban corridors follow abandoned rail lines and cross contaminated industrial lands, including trails on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, Camden, Chester and Trenton and on the Schuylkill River. These trails are typically expensive and complicated to complete but are essential as urban hubs for the network. “These trails increase scarce public access to our rivers, particularly in underserved neighborhoods that have been cut off from waterways for generations, and they also literally connect people to visible examples of stream restoration projects for ongoing environmental protection efforts,” he said.
DVRPC will receive $7 million over three years from the Foundation to support final design and engineering work for trail projects, ensuring that selected trails are shovel-ready for construction. The DVRPC grant will also include some construction capital and will leverage millions of dollars of available public infrastructure funding for trail completion. RTC’s $1.6 million grant, also over three years, is designed to implement a communications program to build awareness of this significant regional amenity. The campaign will emphasize how and where people can connect to the Circuit for recreation, commuting and fitness use and how they can support the completion of the overall system through advocacy and giving.
“We are so grateful to the William Penn Foundation for sharing in and supporting our vision of how a fully connected Circuit will bring environmental, economic, health, community and quality of life benefits to residents and visitors throughout greater Philadelphia,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chairperson of the Circuit Coalition, a collaboration of nearly 70 non-profit organizations, foundations and public agencies. “This funding underscores the Foundation’s long-term commitment to powering public-private partnerships for the good of the region. For a significant number of people, the Circuit is their commuting route, town square, gym and playground. Catalyzing further progress toward completing the Circuit in new communities expands the Circuit’s benefits to many more people who currently lack access to green space and riverfronts. We are also fortunate that our Coalition members engage at such a significant advocacy level – identifying opportunities to move the effort forward and providing constituents with opportunities to make their priorities known to decision makers,” Stuart said.
“We have made tremendous progress toward completion of the Circuit, and this $7 million grant from the William Penn Foundation will advance development of key segments of this emerging regional trail network with a focus on urban communities,” said Barry Seymour, DVRPC Executive Director. “Specifically, new funding will provide support to trails at key planning, engineering, and construction stages, leveraging and maximizing regional investment in these facilities. We will identify the high-priority trail projects and help make them happen.”
According to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy President Keith Laughlin, when completed the Circuit will be the most comprehensive regional trail network in the country. “As we have seen in cities like Atlanta, Indianapolis and Seattle, active transportation networks like this are about much more than just a nice place to walk or ride; they are about how cities position themselves as great places to live, work and do business,” Laughlin said. “The Circuit would be without parallel. This is what the transportation and recreation systems of the future will look like, and the Circuit will be the Greater Philadelphia region’s competitive advantage.”
About the Circuit
The Circuit is a multi-use trail network that connects 300 miles of trails throughout the Greater Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with plans to add 450 additional miles to the system. When fully complete, the Circuit will help connect people to jobs, recreational opportunities, public transportation and other neighborhoods, and will serve as a gateway to open green space. Support of the Circuit is being led by the Circuit Coalition, a group of nonprofit organizations, foundations and agencies working together to raise the profile of this regional trail network, and educate people about the benefits an increased trail network will bring to the region. For more information please visit www.connectthecircuit.org.
About Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is dedicated to uniting the region's elected officials, planning professionals and the public with the common vision of making a great region even greater. Shaping the way we live, work and play, DVRPC builds consensus on improving transportation, promoting smart growth, protecting the environment, and enhancing the economy. We serve a diverse region of nine counties: Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Mercer in New Jersey. DVRPC is the official metropolitan planning organization for the Greater Philadelphia Region - leading the way to a better future. For more information, visit www.dvrpc.org.
About Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), a nonprofit organization with more than 160,000 members and supporters, represents a national community of more than 850,000 trail users. Founded in 1986, RTC is America’s largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines. For more information, visit railstotrails.org.
About William Penn Foundation
The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.3 billion as of Nov. 30, 2014.
On November 20, 2014, the Circuit Coalition held its fifth semi-annual meeting at DVRPC's offices. Over 55 persons attended for the two hour program.
Patrick Starr of Pennsylvania Environmental Council gave a recap of the past year's success in four groundbreakings and eight ribbon cuttings that garnered media attention, covered by 47 different outlets; 16 TV segments by all 4 major Philadelphia news channels; and an impressive 8 Philadelphia Inquirer stories.
Major messages included: as the trail network grows, small businesses are benefitting; key assets in the Circuit are being completed; collaboration leads to progress in trail development; Philadelphia is one of the most accessible cities for bicyclists; the Circuit will make Philadelphia a world-class city for trail access adn funding is key for further trail development.
Chris Linn of Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission informed us that Circuit trails successfully raised $13.1 million in federal, state and local funding during 2014.
Leo Bagley of Montgomery County Planning Commission provided us with an update on the trail segment prioritization process that the five PA counties are undertaking with DVRPC staff assistance.
Matt Norris of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign provided an update on the progress being made in the four NJ counties.
Shawn Megill Legendre of DVRPC brought us up to date on the 8 permanent counters that have been installed througouth the Circuit with 2 more to go in 2015. Carl Knoch of Rails to Trails Conservancy described the trail survey effort that is underway on the Circuit.
Elissa Garofalo of the Delaware & Lehigh Corridor, Gail Farmer of The Schuylkill Center and Barrett Dunigan of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail presented on each of their organizations successful efforts to partner with a hospital or health provider to promote their Circuit trails for wellness.
In summary, the Circuit Coalition has 43 member organizations and 15 partner agencies. To date, the Circuit has 300 miles complete, 50 in progress and 400 remain to be built. 30 miles have been built since 2012. It's been an busy and exciting 2014 and we are all looking forward to even more progress in 2015.
Lastly, you know we've hit the big time when the Boardwalk is featured in Signe Wilkinson's "Penn's Place" in the Sunday Inquirer. We are honored.
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation cordially invites you to the Poquessing Creek Trail Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 at 1:00 PM. The ribbon cutting is taking place on the trail, which begins at Junod Playground (12770 Dunks Ferry Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154). Please see the map below for directions to the ribbon cutting site. Please park in the parking lot off Mechanicsville Road, shown on the map. FYI—the estimated amount of time from Center City Philadelphia to this site is 30 minutes during non-peak traffic times.
Before yesterday's opening of the north and south extensions of the Pennypack Trail in Montgomery County it was very difficult to get to or from the trail via SEPTA. The only trailhead was almost in the dead center of the trail on the narrow and twisty Moredon Rd in Lorimer Park. It wasn't impossible, you could get could get close via the 24 or 88 bus but the on road distance and difficulty to get to the faster and more direct regional rail trains didn't make the trip worthwhile.
The new section up to Welsh Road is now linked to the Bethayres Station on the West Trenton Line via a sidewalk that begins at the bridge over Pennypack Creek. Biking on Huntingdon Pike and Welsh Road requires a tolerance for riding in fast traffic without shoulders.
From the Bethayres station:
The new bridge at the south end of the trail crosses a deep ravine and Shady Lane and eases the trip from Fox Chase Station on the Fox Chase Line. The on road bike route from Fox Chase is less stressful than from Bethayres but there are also sidewalks for pedestrians.
From the Fox Chase station:
It's been only 5 months since Montgomery County broke ground on the extension of the Pennypack Trail in Huntingdon Valley, where County Commissioner Josh Shapiro declared that "we will open this trail in the fall". Much to our delight the Commissioner kept his promise and so once again we will be at another splended ribbon cutting.
Like the Doylestown Bike Hike event last week the County will be opening two trail segments.
Please plan to attend the ribbon cutting Friday November 14th at 2PM in the trailhead parking area at the intersection of Welsh and Terwood Road. Attendees will then either bike or take a shuttle bus to the new pedestrian bridge for a second ribbon cutting.
A blustery wind did not deter an enthusiastic group of Bucks County residents and public officials who cut the ribbons on two trails this afternoon in Doylestown Township and New Britain Borough.
Attendees departed by bus from Covered Bridge Park in New Britain to the newest segment of the Neshaminy Creek Greenway located off Upper State Road in Doylestown Township. The .7 mile trail parallels the creek and connects the 202 Parkway Trail. After the ceremony the group was bused back to Covered Bridge Park for a second dedication for the 1.1 mile long Destination Peace Valley Trail along Pine Run.
Both trails are included in the 24 mile Doylestown Community Bike Hike System. The Bike Hike System is a cooperative project of Doylestown Borough, Doylestown Township, New Britain Borough, New Britain Township and Chalfont Borough.
BIKING SEASON ISN'T OVER YET!
Show your support for completing the D&L Trail!
Jim Thorpe, PA
Saturday, November 8th
It's a big project that needs your BIG support. Help us make this critical connection to link all five counties of the D&L Trail.
Registration: $29, or $45 with bike rental.
Call 1-800-944-8392 to reserve your space.
Riders will enjoy biking the beautiful D&L Trail in the off-season from one of our newest trailheads in Luzerne County. From there we will pedal through the Lehigh Gorge, past Rockport and Penn Haven Junction to historic downtown Jim Thorpe. We’ll ride along the Lehigh River and some of the most scenic mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Bike for the Bridge will bring riders together to enjoy this beautiful landscape and support a good cause. Please join us on one of the last big bike rides of the season.
We know you expect the D&L Trail to be easily accessible, convenient and provide a great outdoor experience. This ride is fully supported with bike techs and water stations. Riders, and their bikes, will be shuttled from downtown Jim Thorpe to their starting destination.
Choose your option for this ride:
• 36 miles from Black Diamond Trailhead to Jim Thorpe (10 a.m. start)
• 15 miles from Rockport to Jim Thorpe (12:30 p.m. start)
All proceeds will benefit the building the pedestrian bridge. This project will help complete the D&L Trail as it crosses the Lehigh River from historic downtown Jim Thorpe to the Lehigh Canal Towpath and Weissport Trailhead.
To register for this event, please call Pocono Biking to reserve your spot:
Registration will also be available the morning of the event.
(Online registration is not available.)
For more information, please visit our website: Bike for the Bridge
Lots of dignitaries -- Congressman Chaka Fattah, Senator Vince Hughes, State Rep. Pam Delissio, Montco Commissioners Leslie Richards, Josh Shapiro and Bruce Castor; Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor Mike DiBerardinis, DCNR Deputy Secretary Flood, SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey.
Lots of smiles -
Lots of words about partnerships, colloborations, persistence and getting stuff done! We think Leslie Richards said it best...."This is the coolest project!"
A great day for the Circuit. More photos here!
What are the next big trail projects in Philadelphia? What is in store for trails near your home?
Hear the answers directly from City and non-profit development organizations that plan and build Philadelphia’s trail network. Alan Urek, Director, Strategic Planning & Policy of Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis of Parks & Recreation, and Andrew Stober, Chief of Staff of the Mayor's Office of Transportation and other non-profit partners will share updates on how trail projects are envisioned, prioritized and developed; which segments will be constructed next; and the vision for the citywide trail network.
5:30 – 6 Registration and Refreshments
6 – 7:30 Program
Please RSVP here
For most people, the caged bike/ped bridge over I-76 (as seen in the photo slide show) in King of Prussia is the closest they have ever gotten to the Chester Valley Trail (CVT) in Montgomery County.
The bridge opened in 2004 when the I-76 and 202 interchange was upgraded. (The other trail bridge is Norfolk Southern's Trenton Cutoff.) And, slowly but surely, the Chester Valley Trail has been built to the west to meet Chester County's 13 miles of trail and in hopefully in two years, will extend eastward to meet up directly with the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown.
Currently, in Montgomery County, the eastern edge of the CVT is South Gulph Road and the westen end is at South Warner Road. As part of our "Explore the Circuit" series of rides and walks, on October 18th, about twenty of us joined Mike Stokes, Assistant Director of the Montgomery County Planning Commission to see how the county was going to align the Chester Valley Trail eastward to the SRT.
We set out on a beautiful windy afternoon from the S. Warner Road trailhead (nice parking lot with toilet facilities) and walked east, over the expressway to South Gulph Road. We then crossed over to Bill Smith (a former Supervisor) Boulevard and took a look at the historic King of Prussia Inn (which was moved years ago from its original location.) Afterwards, we walked through the (hugely wide) PECO right of way that the trail will go through and then along Hansen Access Road. Fortuitously, we had among our group a SETPA planner who told us that one of four possible alignments for the KOP trolley extension might also use the PECO ROW, but it won't interfere with the trail. At the junction of Hanson Access Road and Henderson Road, the trail will go over Henderson Road on second bike/ped bridge and land on an inactive rail line. The trail will continue up this old rail line and eventually meet up at DeKalb Street and cross the Schuylkill River on the DeKalb Bridge where it will meet with Schuylkill River Trail at the Norristown Transportation Center.
It was a lovely walk and everyone enjoyed learning more about this much anticipated connection between two Circuit trunk trails. Montco hopes to advertise the project in 2015 and estimates that the project will take one year to complete. The Bicycle Coalition hopes to return next spring and host another walk of the section from Henderson Road to Norristown. Many thanks to Mike Stokes for sharing his deep knowledge of the project, the map below and some of his photos.