‘Never say never’ was the theme that followed Wednesday’s dedication ceremony in Bridesburg. Community members and city leaders convened Wednesday to celebrate the opening of Phase 1A of the Delaware Avenue Extension project – a new 0.6 roadway and trail project built along the Delaware Riverfront Greenway in Northeast Philadelphia that has been in discussion for more than 20 years!
Phase 1A of the extension, connecting Port Richmond to Bridesburg, includes a 0.6-mile section of new roadway, a bridge over the Frankford Creek and an adjacent multi-use trail segment extending from Lewis Street to Orthodox Street.
Officials, including Mayor Nutter, Denise Goren, director of the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis, Commissioner of Streets Department David J. Perri and Former U.S. Congressman Robert Borski as well as Tom LaCroix, an active member of the Board of the Bridesburg Business Association gave remarks at the ceremony and reflected on the impact the project has already had on the Bridesburg community as well as Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter commented that the project is a “win, win, win,” providing a vital, direct route to and from I-95 for the industries, improving access to the waterfront and relieving the Bridesburg community of significant truck traffic on their neighborhood streets that has been degrading their quality of life.
And while the new road segment alleviates the truck traffic, the new multi-use trail opens opportunities for residents to broaden their own transportation choices and accommodates pedestrian crossings. As the project evolves, the trail will be used for commuters to bypass traffic congestion and ride right along the river to get to work.
Goren described the project as the first new road to open in the city in 30 years. When speaking about the new trail Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis commented on how far we’ve come, adding that trails have become an integral part of Philadelphia. The addition of a multi-use trail was an integral element, especially when considering residents’ quality of life. Residents (for decades) have requested access to the river for recreational use. Now, residents can take advantage of this unseasonably warm weather and get out on the trail!
And local residents have already seen the positive impact! A resident on Orthodox Street commented that traffic volume has decreased on his street since the road was opened in late November. The resident also observed significant more yellow school busses on Delaware Avenue. The bus operation is at the end of Orthodox Street and, prior to the opening, bus drivers had no choice but to use Orthodox and travel through the neighborhood – creating further traffic congestion! As the project evolves, a trail will be built at Magee Street, located at the back of a Charter School currently in development, allowing students from neighboring communities to use the trail to get to school.
The federally funded $14.5 million project, which broke ground last spring is yet another reminder of the power of collaboration, perseverance and vision. “This multi-layered project shows just how much progress can happen when entities, public and private, across the city collaborate,” Mayor Nutter said. The inclusion of the trail in the Delaware Avenue Extension shows that solutions for transportation challenges in Philadelphia extend beyond motorized travel. In fact, infrastructure that supports walking and biking are widely recognized as indispensable elements of projects like these.
Officials thanked the Delaware River City Corporation, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Streets Department, Urban Engineers, Buckley Company and others for their collaboration on the project.
Congressman Borski praised the Mayor for his work expanding roads and trails commenting:
“This is a great day for Philadelphia and particularly for Bridesburg and Port Richmond. A big part of Philadelphia being a world class city are world class neighborhoods. To have this beautiful trail – the connector to the rest of Delaware Avenue – is nothing short of a miracle.”
And this project is just the beginning for what’s to come in Bridesburg. Phase 1B, set to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2018, will continue the extension of Delaware Avenue north from Orthodox to Buckius Street – creating a mile of new trail and roadway in total. By 2020, officials hope to see Delaware Avenue extended as far as the Frankford Boat Launch, where it is planned to link with I-95. When the project is complete, there will be 11 miles of new trail stretching from Allegheny to Grant Avenue!
Residents are looking forward to using the piece just built that will connect Bridesburg to Port Richmond. As the trail gets pushed north into the Frankford Boat Launch, it will connect Bridesburg and Port Richmond to a recreational park. The Wissinoming, Port Richmond and Bridesburg neighborhoods will all have access to trail and the river.
Also in development is a new riverfront park in Bridesburg, a 10-acre park that will be connected to the Delaware Avenue Extension. Final park designs will be presented at a public community meeting next Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
Image 1: The new 0.6 mile-long trail and roadway; Image 2: Aerial view of Phase 1A of the Delaware Avenue Extension Project; Image 3: Cyclists enjoying the new trail on the Delaware Avenue Extension
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!
With the snip of a blue ribbon and an inaugural ride by bicyclists, the first 1,400 feet of the Delaware River Trail from Spring Garden Street to Ellen Street was opened Monday morning.
The bicycling, running, and walking trail is separated from Delaware Avenue by shrubbery. It's part of an initiative started by Mayor Nutter in 2009 to create about five miles of trails along the Delaware waterfront to spur development and green transportation.
"The master plan for the central Delaware calls for a continuous waterfront trail to renew our connection to the water's edge," Nutter told a crowd of about 50. "I know, piece by piece, this trail will do just that."
The completed section of the trail was built on public land and ends just before the parking lot of SugarHouse Casino, said Lizzie Woods, project manager for the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. Construction began in early February and finished Friday, Woods said.
The trail is lined with gardens to absorb rainfall and help keep it from overwhelming sewage and drainage systems, and is lit by solar power.
Once the full trail is finished, it will connect with the Circuit, a series of bicycle and pedestrian paths that advocates hope to expand into a citywide transportation system, and the East Coast Greenway, which is projected to run from Maine to Florida and connect the Delaware River and the Schuylkill.
Although the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. plans to complete the trail in 10 to 15 years, it depends on funding and grants. About $500,000 of the $1.5 million project was paid by a grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and the rest came from the city's capital program.
The trails are estimated to cost about $770 million spread over 30 years, with $248 million from city and state funding and the remainder from grants and bonds.
Bicyclists, such as Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia spokesman Nicholas Mirra, hope the trail will be a safer way for riders to travel on the waterfront. He said that despite bike paths on Delaware Avenue, some riders were deterred by cars racing down the street.
"Part of the friction in Philly between drivers and bicyclists [is] perceptions over what a street can be and what a street is for," Mirra said. "Avoiding that when you can by creating a dedicated path is a win for everybody."
There are a number of trails under construction that are going to make an appearance soon.
Connector Bridge -- The installation of railings on the prefabricated truss bridge and approach ramps is underway on the Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge project over the CSX tracks between Spruce and Locust Streets. Work continues on the restoration of the Schuylkill River Park and Schuylkill Banks. The City hopes to have an opening ceremony in October, possibly in conjunction with Schuylkill River Park's Fall Festival. Some delays in the procurement of light fixtures may impact a complete opening of the bridge on that day. SRDC will have more information about the opening ceremony in its August newsletter.
Shawmont to Port Royal Avenue -- Construction of the portion of trail from Port Royal Avenue to Montgomery County line is complete. Work continues on the section from Shawmont to Port Royal along Nixon Street, including paving and completion of a retaining wall along the trail parallel to Nixon Street. Work is expected to be completed in Fall 2012.
Walnut Street Bridge Gateway - The Walnut Street Bridge project is moving along smoothly. Decorative granite pavers were installed on the south sidewalk and the new pedestrian lights have been erected. Some of the “expressway-like” overhead signs have been replaced with smaller signs that are more in keeping with the scale of the bridge, and the rest will be replaced soon. The south sidewalk is finished, so the contractor has switched traffic patterns and is doing similar work on north sidewalk. When this project is completed in September, vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians should all enjoy a safer, and cheerier, crossing of the river.
Cynwyd Station & Cynwyd Trailhead -- Two projects are nearing completion and there is an October 28th date set for a ribbon cutting for both.
58th Street Greenway -- The trail is being paved this summer. Trees, lighting, and pedestrian signage will be installed early this fall and a ribbon cutting to follow. Programming to celebrate the greenway is already underway through the Get Active 58th! program.
Camden Greenway -- Three projects are under construction that will significantly enhance the Camden Greenway: Pearl Street (next to the Ben Franklin Bridge), MLK Boulevard Waterfront Connection, and Pine Street Connector
Tacony Creek - Trail construction of Phase 1 (I & Ramona to Whitaker Avenue) is underway as of July 2012.
Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk
Port Richmond Section of the East Coast Greenway
Penn Street Trail
Realignment of the Delaware Riverfront Trail between Pier 70 and Washington Avenue