For Those Confused About the Manayunk Bridge Opening/Closing Times…


After the dust and initial joy about the Manayunk Bridge Trail settled last Friday, there were many questions about it. Specifically, trail users wanted to know A) Why there were gates at the trail entrances and B) Why they were closed.

Below, we’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions our members, and trail users, have asked about the Bridge since it opened.

Screenshot 2015-11-02 20.30.24

What are the hours of the Manayunk Bridge?

The bridge opens at 8am and closes at 6pm from November 1-March 31. From April 1-October 31, it opens at 8am and closes at 9pm.

Huh? Why does it close at all?

There are a couple reasons for that. First off, technically, since the trail is part of the parks system, it closes at dusk. Given we’re now in Eastern Standard Time, it gets dark early.

“[Lower Merion Township] parks people don’t start at 6 am or work until midnight when people want the bridge open,” says Chris Leswing, assistant director of building and planning at Lower Merion Township. “We need to work with Philadelphia and the Manayunk Development Corp on hours of operation.”

So that’s it? Just rework the hours?

Haha, no. Officials won’t keep the bridge open after dark until there’s proper lighting on the bridge—and lighting was not part of the initial budget.

“The bridge has the conduit for lighting, but lighting has not been designed, estimated or budgeted. We also need to think about lighting on the [Lower Merion] side and where that leads to,” Leswing adds. “Lighting on the bridge has two parts…decorative and practical. Lighting on the [Lower Merion] side is for safety. Decorative lighting is expensive and we will need sponsors. A similar coalition of stakeholders that got the bridge approved will be required to work through the details.”

But the bridge was, in part, paid for with federal transportation dollars. Shouldn’t such projects serve a transportation purpose?

There is no requirement that stipulates that federally funded trails need to be open after dark to accommodate transportation needs, but trail projects that don’t benefit surface transportation are easy targets for our adversaries in Congress who oppose money set aside for trails.

So, what are our options?

For the time being, nothing is going to change. The bridge will close at 6 throughout the winter. Organizers need to raise sufficient funds to add lighting to the bridge, then regroup and get the hours changed.

How can you help?

The Friends groups (Ivy Ridge and Cynwyd) were created to help advocate/fundraise for these types of discretionary amenities beyond the core public walkway. Lighting and operations comes from different pots of money than design and construction. The Bicycle Coalition and other advocates will be involved in this process.

“The public interest in this project is exciting and we will work to catch up with the expectations,” adds Leswing.

Topics: Featured, research, The Circuit

24 comments on “For Those Confused About the Manayunk Bridge Opening/Closing Times…

  1. Luke Harrington

    Do better next time, this was a bush leagure mistake and your explanation is unsatisfactory. This is a colossal waste of the resource if we can’t use it at night, and make sure the feckless guard opens the gate promptly at 8AM in the morning. Get it lit, leave it open, let us use our public spaces

  2. Timmy G.

    I found your answer very satisfactory. According to common standards of decency, I think it’s proper for gate openers in the United States to be considered feckful until proven feckless . Let’s be happy for being able to cross the bridge in daylight for now, and then when it’s lit, we’ll have something else to be happy about! I say, “phooey,” to the nattering nabobs of negativity. I love this bridge.

  3. Ben Nicholson

    I second Luke’s comment. This is nonsense; I know of no other bike trail that “closes.” Closing the bridge at night takes away from the utility of the trail and makes it merely recreational.

  4. Rich Muliero

    absolutely unbelievable. This bridge should be state of the art. WHY WAS LIGHTING NOT INSTALLED DURING CONSTRUCTION ALREADY?!?! this is completely ridiculous.

  5. kr metters

    what were these a++holes com[laining about last week

  6. Brad Maule

    That there are limited hours is an abomination. Some economic development when people can’t use it to commute or come home from the bars or even restaurants.

    Another question: why do the “bike lane” and “pedestrian lane” switch paths in the middle of the bridge? I saw a number of confused people in the middle of the bridge (including an incident where two people walking dogs with leashes definitely longer than 6′ were scolding a couple cyclists for being on the wrong side), and if you actually follow the respective concrete, they’ll lead you right off the bridge midspan. Fortunately, railing was included in the cost. Why the crisscross?

    Egregious errors aside, it’s really fantastic. I think the rest of the stuff (better signage, like at the foot of the bridge at Dupont & High, lighting, better hours???) will work itself. The important thing is that it’s open.

  7. Heidi Siegel

    This is not useful for commuters — difficult to believe that hard-fought government dollars were spent on a recreational-use-only project; mulit-use, mulit-purpose has a much better ROI.

  8. sam

    They should start a gofundme page, this would get so much money so quickly!! people want to use this part of the trail when biking / running to work in the earlier hours of the morning!

  9. Andrew Besold

    Lights are simply not required. There are large stretches of the SRT and even Forbidden Drive that are open to cycling at night. Someones lawyers are talking here.

  10. Gayle Morrow

    “… trail projects that don’t benefit surface transportation are easy targets for our adversaries in Congress who oppose money set aside for trails.” I’m assuming bikes, skates, and feet aren’t included in that, right?

    I agree with the others, this trail was hyped & opened before it was complete! Terrible planning.

  11. C

    The signage for pedestrian and bicycle lanes is not clear.
    Towards the center of the bridge where the lanes actually switch sides, it’s a little chaotic. Everyone is trying to stay in their designated lanes, but it is not clear that the lanes switch midway, so for the length of the bridge, cyclists weave around pedestrians in all lanes, dogs on leashes stray into lanes for cyclists. It feels unsafe.
    Who is responsible for designating pedestrian and bicycle lanes and who is responsible for signage?
    Can this be improved?
    Can there be a limit for bicycle speed? and benches added?
    Why are there bike racks in the middle of the bridge?
    If you know who can answer these questions, I would be really grateful. I’d like to follow through.

  12. Joe

    I went out of my way to cross the bridge on my bike last night because it is the safest route in the dark only to find the gate locked. Where is the benefit if cycling commuters are locked out the time of year when we need it the most? I thought it was going to be a vital link for cycling and running. After seeing it open it looks more like the most expensive dog park ever for very privlidge people.

  13. sandy

    I think a go find me page us a great idea!

    If dusk till dawn is true, I volunteer to open the bridge at sunrise! I’m right up the street. I know others on the Manayunk side who would also do this.

    The other disappointment wss that the bridge didn’t continue to Umbria and the section of the trail closest to ivy ridge. I was out there with others 6 years ago clearing that area… I use to walk that part often… What happened?

  14. sandy

    I think a go fund me page is a great idea!

    If dusk till dawn is true, I volunteer to open the bridge at sunrise! I’m right up the street. I know others on the Manayunk side who would also do this.

    The other disappointment wss that the bridge didn’t continue to Umbria and the section of the trail closest to ivy ridge. I was out there with others 6 years ago clearing that area… I use to walk that part often… What happened?

  15. Larry

    As a year-round bike commuter I was anxiously awaiting the opening of the bridge and it is a wonderful piece of infrastructure. The late opening time in the morning is a real problem and renders it essentially useless for commuting purposes. The result is that we are forced to traverse Belmont and the Green Lane Bridge in the dark to get to the Bala side from the SRT. This is very unsafe for both drivers and cyclists / runners. The sad irony is that there is a wonderful bridge that completely solves this problem, quite literally, right above your head – but you can’t use it simply because of the hours. I also like the idea of a go fund me page.

  16. Alicia

    At the very least, can we please open the trail at 7:30 in the morning instead of 8:00. Sunrise is 7:23 at the latest, so there’s not a lighting issue.

    • SteveR

      Alicia – I would be HAPPY with 8AM. Yesterday (Sunday the 8th), my group hit the BC side, CLOSED, we rode into Manayunk, rode around, hit the Manayunk side at 8:30, CLOSED. Walkers and joggers, were doing the old squeeze thru, to get in.

  17. Brian Biggs

    I planned around the 6pm closing with a ride showing the bridge off to a bunch of friends last night (Nov 5). We were going across the bridge at 5:40pm but were told too turn around by a Ranger in her SUV who had already locked the Lower Merion side at 5:30. She said the bridge is open “up to 6pm.” Which of course is absurd. Two commuters joined us in the argument. This isn’t a lighting issue. I mean find, it’s posted, 6pm. So leave the bridge open til 6! If we can’t even plan around actual opening and closing times, then it’s really useless.

  18. Anne

    It’s hard to figure out how to get onto the bridge if you’re not from the area. My friend and I had to ask more than one person before we found someone who directed us up to Baker Street from Main Street. A couple of signs at crucial intersections would really be helpful.

  19. Margaret G.

    i just returned from riding on the new trail, leaving fom my East Falls home. iIt is spectacular and it seems that many people,old and young,pets etc were enjoying it too!,

  20. Molly

    The bridge is a wonderful addition! Unfortunately, the “8 am open” is not only too late in the morning for many would-be users, but also there have been several instances when the gates are not unlocked until 8:30 am or later. We need a better solution.

  21. Nick

    This bridge is wonderful and thank you so much to all the people that worked on this project. Unfortunately, it’s nearly useless to myself and many who use the bike paths on a regular basis. If you needed money for the lights, you shouldn’t have built such incredibly expensive and over-wrought gates on either end of the bridge.

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