On January 31, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) announced a new section of trail along the Schuylkill River south of Center City was now open. The segment begins at South Street and travels down to Christian Street. This is a major development in connecting the final leg of the Schuylkill River Trail and adding to the region’s 750 mile Circuit Trail network.
Image provided by SRDC
The 1400 foot paved greenway is 12 ft wide with light poles and landscaped with much more vegetation than other sections of the trail. “There’s a huge amount of meadow grass, and a lot of shrubs. This will be much more vegetated than the trail is at Chestnut Street and Walnut Street where it’s mostly lawn,” said Joe Syrnick, President of the SRDC. “For the most part this is heavily landscaped...more environmentally correct.”
Syrnick tells us the plants also have a function in easing stormwater runoff. “The idea of these trails is that it captures the stormwater runoff and keeps it from flowing into the river,” Syrnick said. “These plants, especially the grasses, will grab most of that and keep it from getting into the river.”
Image provided by SRDC
According to Syrnick this section was tough to work on due to site access. “This was a very difficult and costly section because of where it is. Access was really bad,” Syrnick said.
Large construction vehicles simply could not be used, and at times, barges were needed to bring in materials. Unfortunately, Syrnick says this will be the case when building the trail section between Christian Street and Grays Ferry Crescent Park, known as Christian to Crescent. “The next section is going to be even more difficult. It’s going to have to be worked on almost exclusively from the river,” Syrnick said. Funding is still being secured for this segment.
Syrnick says trail users will likely see the proposed “Schuylkill Crossing” swing bridge completed first. This project aims to convert an existing obsolete swing bridge just south of the Grays Ferry Bridge to a pedestrian friendly walkway connecting Schuylkill Banks and Grays Ferry Crescent Park to Bartram’s Garden.
This former train bridge will one day connect the Grays Ferry Crescent and the SRT to Bartram's Garden
Syrnick hopes that once this project is underway, people will see that there is only one remaining segment of the project left, and that a sense of urgency will help fuel the process.
“Once the swing bridge is under construction, (Christian to Crescent) becomes the last gap between center city and Bartram’s,” Syrnick said. I hope there will be a great urgency to get it done.”
According to Syrnick trails like this drive urban economies by increasing quality of life. "This is recreational, but it’s also transportation, it’s also environmental...it’s also healthy living,” Syrnick said. He believes the city and public will benefit greatly once the Schuylkill River Trail is completed.
“These trails are an economic development engine,” Syrnick said. “Once you open up the riverfront you start to see development coming along. It creates a good quality of life for everybody, and that becomes an economic development opportunity.”