DCNR Officials Help to Dedicate Schuylkill River Trail (USA)
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources officials yesterday joined neighborhood, city and state leaders in the dedication of a newly restored, highly popular trail along the Schuylkill River that draws thousands of people each year to Philadelphia’s Manayunk section.
“One of the major ways to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy the natural world around them is to build trails or trail connectors close to where they live,” said DCNR Deputy Secretary John Giordano, speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony along the Schuylkill Canal Towpath, off of Lock Street. “As you can see, the Schuylkill River Trail does just that — it traverses through many of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and provides close access to a well-maintained and loved recreational amenity.”
The ceremony celebrated completion of a 2.2-mile segment of the Schuylkill River Trail, extending north from the end of the canal toward the river and the Shawmont Avenue area of Philadelphia’s Roxborough section. Linking Montgomery County to the north, it sees the heaviest use of any trail in Philadelphia, luring hikers, bikers, joggers and other outdoors enthusiasts.
“This trail will not only promote the health and social benefits realized from recreation, it will be a gateway to increased visitation and, in turn, boost the economic vitality of Manayunk’s rebounding Main Street area business district, ” Giordano said. “In fact, we already see businesses responding, by beginning to front on the canal and towpath.”
The aesthetics and recreational value of the canal and paralleling towpath and trail have been linked to the location of new businesses and residential development.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the partnerships that led to the completion of this project,” Giordano said. “Like many of our projects across Philadelphia, the cooperative work of the city, the state and regional organizations are what made this project possible.”
The project was financed through a $300,000 DCNR grant to Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Commission; a matching state Department of Transportation Transportation Enhancement grant; and Philadelphia capital budget funds.
The restoration project was needed to address recurrent flooding caused by poor drainage, and the deterioration of four trail bridges spanning small streams flowing into the Schuylkill from the Shawmont hills. The restored section is among the trail’s most scenic, threading through heavily wooded, shaded areas along the river.
Specifically, work included: installation of new fencing along the canal’s towpath area; rebuilding and widening of the trail; flooding remediation; removal of overgrown vegetation that clogged the trail in some areas; and planting of trees and shrubbery.
Several other improvements are planned or under way in Philadelphia that will enhance the Schuylkill River Trail experience for users and increase their connections with other trails. This work includes:
– Inception of a canal dredging project by the city to clean and deepen the silt and storm debris-clogged waterway;
– Restoration of historic canal locks;
– Construction of an “off-road” trail, taking travelers from the Shawmont Avenue terminus of the Schuylkill River Trail to Port Royal Avenue, and then north into Montgomery County. This trail originally used at least one city street to facilitate travel;
– Construction of a trail over the Manayunk Bridge, connecting Lower Merion’s Cynwyd Trail with Manayunk and the Schuylkill River Trail;
– Redevelopment of Manayunk’s Venice Island, between the Schuylkill and the canal, to offer a new city recreation and performing arts center, upgraded parking and storm-water retention structures.
Dredging Today Staff, February 24, 2012