This morning, the DVRPC Board held their monthly meeting to approve various agenda items that include the Circuit Trails in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Prior to the meeting kicking off, our Executive Director and Chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition gave a public comment thanking the DVRPC Board and staff involved for the notable progress made to advance the regional trail network. Below is an overview of those agenda items, what was approved by the Board and how you can get involved by supporting the Circuit Trails Coalition.

Following Sarah’s public comment, the DVRPC Board approved Montgomery County’s request to DVRPC to amend the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) by adding the Cross County Trail project in the amount of $3,126 million for preliminary engineering and final design. The Montgomery County Circuit Trails Action Team has identified the Cross County Trail as the priority project and continues to work with the Montgomery County Planning Commission, NV5, various partners and constituents to advance the trail from its current terminus at the Germantown Pike/Chemical Road intersection in Plymouth Township east to Joshua Road in Whitemarsh Township (see the trail segment highlighted in red on the map below). When complete, the Cross County Trail will provide seamless connections from the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken to the Wissahickon Trail. This progress to program the trail segment onto the TIP is critical toward the project receiving additional funding to advance its status from pipeline to in progress.

In New Jersey, the 2023 Transportation Alternative Set- Aside Program (TASA) awards were announced including three Circuit related projects in Camden and Gloucester counties. In total, 19 applications were received and approximately $23.23 million in requests were reviewed by DVRPC. The following Circuit projects were awarded a portion of those funds equaling a total of $4.133 million (see the map below with the total number of awarded projects).

  • Listed as #5 on the map: $1.225M for the Burlington-Camden Trail with Bridge over Route 130 Project in Pennsauken Township, Camden County
  • Listed as #7 on the map: $1.500M for the Camden County LINK Trail, Segment 1E Project in Camden County
  • Listed as #9 on the map: $1.408M for the Elephant Swamp Shared-Use Trail Improvements Project in Elk Township, Gloucester County

Up next, the DVRPC has been in coordination with its southeastern Pennsylvania partners including PennDOT District 6 and Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties to identify an appropriate strategy for technical assistance for TASA funds to support an on-retainer consultant for TASA engineering and planning services and to hire a new project implementation engineer. This strategy involves PennDOT using $450,000 annually of its own statewide allocation of TASA funds. This strategy is a direct result of a request that the Circuit Trails Coalition made to PennDOT nearly a year ago and we applaud the County and DVRPC’s efforts to work with PennDOT to make this technical assistance possible. Increasing capacity to help get projects delivered by taking advantage of this new provision in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is one of the several policy recommendations made by the Circuit Trails Coalition in the 2022 and 2023 edition of Moving the Circuit Forward to Reach 500 miles by 2025.

On a separate but related note, in the last week or so, nearly 400 residents have sent letters to their elected officials asking for the prioritization of the connectivity of trail and active transportation networks. They have asked that the counties incentivize the acceleration and maintenance of this infrastructure to make it safer, more accessible, and more convenient to walk and bike; and to ultimately create more equitable economic and quality-of-life opportunities for everyone who lives here. What those residents hope for is that the PA and NJ counties and DVRPC partners will work together to creatively allocate at least $10M in discretionary federal funds, such as the Carbon Reduction Program or Surface Transportation Funds for each state toward specific large scale Circuit projects in future amendments to, or in upcoming versions of the PA and NJ TIPs.

The members of the Circuit Trails Coalition would like to thank the hundreds of residents throughout the region who took action and helped reinforce the asks that have been laid out by the Coalition. Interested in getting involved? Right now, you can take action by sending a letter to your county leaders urging them to prioritize the Circuit Trails in your area.

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