A tiny stretch of land may go a long way in linking a massive trail network.
Earlier in November, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation officials and contractors detailed a plan to close one of the remaining gaps along the Schuylkill River Trail. Bikers and runners alike may soon find a complete path between the river, Manayunk Canal Towpath and Forbidden Drive along Wissahickon Creek.
Located between Kelly Drive near the Wissahickon Transportation Center and the Pencoyd Bridge behind the movie theater, the 2,100 feet of proposed path could fill one gap in the 120-mile Schuylkill River Trail network, according to Chris Dougherty from Parks and Recreation.
The city and its consultants from Michael Baker, Inc. and Toole Design Group presented a plan Nov. 1 at the Gustine Lakes Recreation Center in East Falls that sought to fill the gap in a time-sensitive, cost effective way that deals with the area's problems.
"Our plan is responsive to several of the major constraints in the area, and I think this is a great option," Dougherty said.
The short path continues the Kelly Drive trail past the Wissahickon Transportation Center, PECO substation, Restaurant Depot, the storage facility, United Artists Theatre, and Manayunk Diner. The question: how to navigate those areas?
The study, funded by a PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, shared three plans, with two running mostly on the river and the third along Ridge Avenue into Main Street.
Both river trails were desirable because of the waterfront aesthetics, but presented hardships in cost ($3.8 to $5.8 million), environmental permits, long-term maintenance, needed property easements and disruption to the Philadelphia Canoe Club. Both would require boardwalks and paved surfaces along the river, said Chris Stanford from Michael Baker, Inc.
To get the trail completed as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, designers shared the following preferred plan, mostly along Ridge Avenue and Main Street. Plans include:
- $2.2 to $2.5 million price tag
- Crossing of seven driveways
- New bridge over Wissahickon Creek
- Path behind SEPTA bus stop
- Shared driveway with PECO and utilizing Main/Ridge sidewalks
- 8 to 10 foot wide pedestrian/bike path with 5 foot landscaped buffer
- No canoe club infringement
- Fewer environmental permits
Organizers said the process is about half-way complete. Now that preliminary plans exist, the city can move along its property easement, fund-raising and final design proposals over the next one to two years.
This work continues several river projects in the Manayunk-Roxborough area. The city nears completion of the Nixon Street Bike Path in Shawmont, and earlier this year refurbished the Manayunk Canal Towpath.
Another meeting is scheduled at the Manayunk Brewery Nov. 19 to discuss the Ivy Ridge Trail. Additionally, a private developer wants to renovate the Pencoyd Bridge to connect the Philadelphia-side trail with the Cywynd Heritage Trail.
View complete project plans at Destination Schuylkill River's website.