Philadelphia has applied for a federal permit to build an extension to the Schuylkill River Trail with a bridge along the eastern bank of the Schuylkill that would allow runners, walkers, and cyclists to go over railroad tracks that have long blocked access to the river. It would also allow for an uninterrupted trail from Valley Forge to Bartram’s Garden.
The $43 million project, adding more than a half-mile of trail, is to be paid for through a mix of federal, state, city, and private funding.
The section would start at Christian Street and run south into the Grays Ferry Crescent trail park, and include a pedestrian bridge with two overlooks similar to the Schuylkill Boardwalk at South Street. It would go over an industrial area that includes the rail operations.
The new portion would give users a westward view across the river toward the University of Pennsylvania baseball field.
The pedestrian bridge would be about 20 feet above the river when the tide is high and will be accessible by people with disabilities. By comparison, the existing Schuylkill Boardwalk is about four feet over high tide.
“The project has been in the works for years, and we’re just finishing up the design,” said Joseph Syrnick, president of the Schuylkill River Development Corp., a nonprofit managing the project for the city.
He said it’s the last gap in the trail from Montgomery County to Bartram’s Garden. “Because of that, it’s very critical,” Syrnick said.
Syrnick said this segment is the most complex part of the trail. He hopes the project goes to bid in the fall, with possible completion by summer 2023.
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