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Partner Post: Greater Philadelphia’s Burgeoning Trail Network

    • circuit trails photo mark willard

By Anya Saretzky, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

In the northeast part of the U.S., a bi-state project called the Circuit Trails is making waves in the walking and biking world. This network, when complete, will include 750 miles of trails in the Greater Philadelphia region covering nine counties in southeast Pennsylvania and South Jersey. Today, 300 miles are complete, with 50 currently in development and 400 yet to be built. Completion is slated for 2040. It’s an ambitious plan, no doubt, but it’s one that captures a vision the region has embraced and will see to completion.

Read more about the region's burgeoning network and the elements that make the Circuit Trails a strong and thriving project on the Rails-to-Trails blog:

Photo courtesy: Mark Willard

Boardwalk opens to great fanfare

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October 1st and 2nd were momentus days for Schuylkill Banks.  A preview for 200 was held the evening of October 1st and the formal ribbon cutting on October 2nd.  After eight years of planning, studying, designing, fundraising and construction, the Boardwalk opened to the delight of thousands who came to "walk on water."  

The Boardwalk received high praise and extensive coverage.  Links to most articles can be found on the Connect The Circuit's front page under "Circuit News."  The AP story has a great quote from the Circuit Coalition's Vice Chair Patrick Starr 

Patrick Starr, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, said as he walked the trail that he didn't realize how much of a connection it made with the neighborhood.

"It transformed it into a great place that everybody wants to be at," said Starr, who is also involved with The Circuit, a network of 300 miles of trails in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. "It's opened a whole new playground for Philadelphians."

Time Lapse of Boardwalk Construction

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These pictures were taken from the lower overlook on the Connector Bridge. There is an image for each month over the course of the Boardwalk's construction starting in July 2013.  See you at the ribbon cutting on October 2nd at 11:30am!

The Wait Is Almost Over: Boardwalk to Open Oct 2

Schuylkill Boardwalk Continues to Grow

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We've been watching the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk slowly but surely come together.  It's awesome! These photos were taken from the first lookout toward the South Street Bridge between August and October 2013.

Enviable Philly Bike Trail (Charleston So. Caroline Post & Courier)

(July 5) Pedestrians and bicyclists in Charleston are to be forgiven if they develop a slight case of trail envy — of Philadelphia.

Like Charleston, it has met obstacles in its efforts to become bike friendly. Charleston has the Ashley River. Philadelphia has to deal with big-city traffic, trains and congestion.


But despite all that, the Philadelphia area is on the way to completing a 130-mile Schuylkill River Trail.

The current stretch?

A 2,000-foot-long, 15-foot-wide boardwalk with four lookout areas on the Schuylkill River.

Lucky for Philadelphia, its bike trail doesn’t have to cross a navigable river like the Ashley. Rather it bypasses a spot where the trail now has to dead-end.

It will be slightly above the tidal waters and is expected to be covered by water once or twice a year when there is severe weather.

And it seems Philadelphians have an affinity for trees similar to Charlestonians’.

The boardwalk is being built 50 feet from shore so as not to disturb a canopy of trees on the riverbank.

Eventually, bikers here expect to be able to ride safely from Folly Beach, through Charleston and Mount Pleasant, to the Isle of Palms.

When it’s complete, the Schuylkill trail, which is used for recreation and commuting, will go from Philadelphia through four counties.

Philadelphia has the Philly cheesesteak, but Charleston has shrimp and hominy.

The Cradle of Liberty has Benjamin Franklin as a native son. Charleston has its own colonial and Revolutionary War history.

But the Schuylkill River Trail boardwalk?

Please understand if Charleston is a little envious.

Update on the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk

JULY 1, 2013 - Christine Fisher, writing for PlanPhilly/, provides an update on the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. The Boardwalk will connect the current terminus of the Schuylkill River Trail at Locust St with the South Street Bridge. Current estimated completion is fall 2014.

Read the article here.

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk Taking Shape

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All 21 caissons are set in the river and the placement of rebar cages and concrete is nearing completion. The next phase, construction of the pier caps that will support the concrete beams, has started near the South Street Bridge. You can envision the projected path of the Boardwalk when viewing from the Walnut Street or South Street bridges.

Work also is proceeding on the 460’ long ramp that will serve as a link to the north side of the South Street Brodge. Crossing Construction still expects the work to be completed in the Summer of 2014.

Learn more about the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk project and check out photos of construction and renderings of the final project here.

First Pier Poured for Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk

Quietly, with little fanfare, the most complicated and involved trail construction project, the Schuylkill Banks boardwalk, has been underway since this past September.  It will extend the Schuylkill River Trail southward from the Locust Street crossing to the South Street Bridge, connecting to it via a ramp on the north side and set of stairs on the south side.

Today, cement was poured to create the Boardwalk's first pier.  The slide showbelow has photos taken in September, October, November and today, including an overhead drawing of the Boardwalk.  All photos taken by Lane Fike of Schuylkill River Development Corporation.

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