August 6, 2013
By Bernard J. Scally
Residents who attended the final public workshop of the Ivy Ridge Trail seems fairly pleased with the options selected for the plan but had concerns about how it would connect to the Schuylkill River Trail and traffic at Ivy Ridge Train Station.
At the final public workshop at North Light on July 31, residents met with consultants, on the trail project as well as representatives from SEPTA and Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, to give their opinions on the options presented.
“You folks have spoken,” said Kay Sykora, director of The Schuylkill Project. “This is what has evolved out of that conversation.”
The Ivy Ridge Trail follows the defunct R6 Ivy Ridge Regional Rail line. It parallels the Manayunk Tow Path, which is part of the Schuylkill River Trail. The Ivy Ridge Trail is considered a lynchpin to the local trail system as it will connect to the Cynwyd Trail in Montgomery County to the nearby Schuylkill River Trail via the Manayunk Bridge.
The Ivy Ridge Trail project as four distinct parts: Leverington Ave., Canton St., Fountain St., Ivy Ridge Station. The bridges at Leveington Ave. have been evaluated and they are all structurally sound, mostly in need of cosmetic attention. The plan would require protective fencing that would extend from the Manayunk Bridge all the way to Canton St. due to retaining walls and the elevated nature of the trail. Since the Leverington St. bridge was built around 1909, the option may have the mixed use trail to be fully paved without landscaping . Cost estimates for this phase, according to Mike Campbell, of Whitman, Requardt and Associates, the lead consulting firm on the project, are expected to run about $3 million.
The trail then passes through an open area on Canton St. Residents around Canton St. use the open space, which is owned by SEPTA, for parking.
“We know how heavily used for parking this area is the entire borough,” said Campbell. “We have tried to maximize parking as much as possible.”
Like much of Manayunk parking is at a premium. While there may be a space or two during the week, residents complain that it is still limited because of the large amount of college renters and weekend visitors to Main St. The plan will make the gravel area an actual parking lot with painted lines with approximately 70-75 Ninety degree angle parking spaces, which is something many residents had requested. The plan also has a landscape buffer between the parking area and trail which will run under the catenary lines, which are still active. The trail will have to be wide enough to accommodate PECO and SEPTA vehicles that may have to perform repair work on those lines.
“Fountain St. is pretty wide open through there,” said Campbell.
At Canton St and Fountain St, there are opportunities to connect the Ivy Ridge Trail to the Manayunk Tow Path. A discussion ensured about making an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant access point between the Ivy Ridge Trail and the Manayunk Townpath in the vicinity of the Fountain St. steps. At Ivy Ridge Station, the trail will tie into the bike lanes on Umbria St. and a possible future extension of the Ivy Ridge Trail. The plan also calls for bike parking area in the lower lot. Residents also discussed a promised connection to the Manayunk Towpath through Umbria Village that is currently under construction. Since no traffic light is planned for Umbria St. and Parker Ave., residents recommended that a traffic study be considered due to the heavy traffic in that area.
According to Campbell, Construction on the iconic Manayunk Bridge is likely to begin early next year.
“We are 99 percent done with design work,” said Campbell. “It will be really exciting because it will provide a really key link to the area.”
The major benefit of that project is the pedestrian connection between Manayunk and Lower Merion via the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, a 350-acre linear park and rail-to-trail comprised of public, private, and institutional lands that will offer recreational, economic, community-building and educational opportunities to Lower Merion Township and the region. The trail follows along the disused section of the R6 Regional Rail line from Cynwyd station to the Manayunk Bridge at the Schuylkill River.
After this workshop, a final report will be made this month to help build funds for the project.
“Once the Manayunk Bridge is finished,” said Campbell. “You’ll start seeing a lot of people want to see the Ivy Ridge Trail get finished.”