Like most "groundbreakings," Thursday morning's event at the Cynwyd Heritage Trail (where construction began weeks ago) was more of a coming-out party, but to the dozens of government leaders and friends of the trail who attended, it was a well-deserved party.
A variety of supporters have propelled the $1.4 million project of clearing and path construction on the abandoned SEPTA line that stretches 2.5 miles from the agency's Cynwyd station to the Schuylkill River, joining up with the network of trails on the Manayunk side.
"What strikes me about this is it's a real public-private partnership," said Pam DeLissio, state representative for Bala Cynwyd and northwest Philadelphia.
"I didn't think we'd find the river again, because of all the development," said Board of Commissioners president Liz Rogan.
The surface of the trail where it meets the east end of Levering Mill Road is compact soil, and several more layers will have to be laid before the trail's scheduled opening in September.
"Four years ago, you couldn't even walk through," said George Manos, commissioner for Bala Cynwyd. "It was like a jungle here. This is just the beginning of the beginning of what can be a wonderful amenity for the whole township."
Commissioner Scott Zelov of Bryn Mawr said the trail is the township's 44th park but its first "linear park". He pointed out that not all township parks have "friends groups" to lobby for their preservation, like the trail does.
"I'm hoping this project comes in at the budget that was established, and I know Chris and the others are working hard to make that happening," Zelov said.
Manos said the project is still expected to stay within budget.