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Media Update on Two New Additions to The Circuit

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One important piece of The Circuit opened to the public in the past few days, and another had its official groundbreaking. 

On Saturday, the Connector Bridge crossing the tracks at Schuylkill River Park officially opened. On time and under budget, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has previously written extensively about the project.

The bridge opening gathered extensive press attention as well, from The Inquirer, the Daily PennsylvanianFlying Kite, and PlanPhilly.

On Monday, a new trail on Philadelphia's other river broke ground in Port Richmond. The aptly-named Port Richmond Trail will help connect people to the Delaware River and add more mileage onto the 250+ miles of bike/ped trail already built in The Circuit. U.S. Rep Allyson Schwartz, who helped secure the federal TIGER grant funding the project, attended the ceremony.

Media coverage for the groundbreaking included CBS 3-KYWWHYY NewsworksPlanPhilly, and the Abington Patch. The trail is expected to be completed by September 2013.

Back to Back Trail TIGER Projects in the Spotlight

Two TIGER projects are in the spotlight over the next few days.

The Connector Bridge dedication ceremony is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Saturday, October 20th (rain or shine).  The bridge promises to be a fantastic new access point to the Schuylkill River Trail and is the culmination of an eight year campaign to ensure at-grade and above-grade access to the Trail and Schuylkill Banks. 

The 1:00 pm ceremony will be on the City side of the Bridge, at Schuylkill River Park (25th and Spruce Streets).  Come early for the Fall Festivalthat starts at 11:00 am.  If you want to be among the first to use the Bridge, come run (or volunteer) at the 8:00 am 5K Runnin on the River that is happening that morning. You can register online!

The Port Richmond Trail gets an official groundbreaking on Monday, October 22nd at 10am.  (Note the date change!) Sponsored by the Delaware River City Corporation, this trail is the only TIGER project that is on the Delaware River.  The speakers will make their remarks from within Pulaski Park, Delaware & Allegheny Avenues, and the shovel display for photo opportunities will be on Delaware Avenue, just north of the entrance to the park. 

The Connector Bridge Arrives After 8 Years Of Work

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An eight year saga is coming to an end this month. In 2004, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia joined a campaign to "Free Schuylkill River Park." The goal was keeping open two railroad track crossings providing river access at Race and Locust Streets in Philadelphia. Eight years later, the campaign is culminating with the finishing touches being placed on a new Connector Bridge crossing the tracks into an improved Schuylkill River Park. The ribbon cutting for the work is happening on Saturday, October 20th at 1:00pm (rain or shine) with Mayor Michael Nutter.
The saga began as a pitched battle between Center City West residents wanting access to a long-awaited riverfront park, and a huge corporation refusing to complicate its operations. It is concluding as an optimistic tale of how good things can happen when residents get organized, elected officials listen and are supportive, and corporations decide to find a way to be good neighbors.
History of the Campaign
The campaign to Free Schuylkill River Park involved organizing a diverse coalition of civic organizations and user groups (including bicyclists) to take advantage of the unprecedented popularity of a one mile stretch of new park and trail. It was complemented by the hard work of a huge array of elected officials and government agencies: Governor Rendell, State Senator Vince Fumo, State Rep. Babette Josephs, Mayors Street and Nutter, many City Council members, the Law Department, the Streets Department, Parks and Recreation, the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, and Schuylkill River Development Corporation.
The 2005 legal skirmish between the City of Philadelphia and CSX (which owns the tracks and right-of-way) included many rounds of negotiations. A settlement was ultimately reached in 2007 which allowed for the two street level crossings plus an bike/ped bridge over the tracks. Funding to cover most of the costs of implementing the agreement came from an earmark from U.S. Senator Arlen Specter during the era of congressional earmarks, a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, and a federal TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation during the era of stimulus funding. The campaign evolved into the Schuylkill River Park Alliance (SRPA), which monitored the implementation of the settlement agreement to make sure it didn't get derailed.
The Finishing Touches
In 2011, the Race and Locust streets crossings were protected with automatic gates and fencing. The last pieces are being completed this fall: the Connector Bridge, a new dog park, major landscaping improvements, and new lighting within the park. After many years of patience and persistence, the October 20th ribbon cutting will mark the culmination of a tremendous effort on the part of many to make the Schuylkill River Park Trail on Schuylkill Banks safe and accessible for all.
Parallel with the festivities, SRPA is hosting the 7th annual Runnin on the River 5K that same morning on October 20th. The race will start from the bottom of the new bridge, allowing the 5K runners to be first among those to cross it.

October Brings Trail Ribbon Cuttings & Groundbreaking

October 19th - Port Richmond Trail

The only trail segment of the East Coast Greenway that received TIGER funds will break ground  on October 19th at 10am.     The event will be held at the intersection of Delaware & Allegheny Avenues, just north of the entrance to Pulaski Park.  The Delaware River City Corporation is the sponsoring organization, along with Philadephia's Parks and Recreation.

October 20th - Connector Bridge

Another trail segment that received TIGER funding is the Connector Bridge, which will provide a above grade crossing between Schuylkill Banks and Schuylkill River Park.  This long anticipated bridge, which the City of Philadelphia built to complement the two at-grade crossings that opened earlier this year, will get a big ribbon cutting on Saturday afternoon at 1pm.  Philadelphia Park and Recreation and Schuylkill River Development Corporation are the sponsoring organizations.  Concurrently, the Friends of Schuylkill River Park is holding its Fall Festival from 10-3pm and the Schuylkill River Park Alliance is holding its 5K Runnin on the River Race at 8am.  

October 28th - Cynwyd TrailHead and Station Rehab Ribbon Cutting – Cynwyd, Lower Merion Twp, PA –  Lower Merion Twp Planning Commission. 12 Noon.  This event is being held in conjunction with the Friends of Cynwyd Trail Fall Festival and will comprise a ribbon cuttinf ro the $625,000 Cynwyd Station Trailhead and $1M renovation of the Cynwyd Station. 

Trail News Wrap Up: 2012 Ribbon Cuttings and Groundbreakings

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There are a number of trails under construction that are going to make an appearance soon.

Trails getting ready for ribbon cuttings in 2012

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. 

Trails expected to break ground in 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