Back in 2010, agencies were looking at different ways to improve the bicycle/pedestrian crossing over the Schuylkill River at Grays Ferry. At that time, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) was in the initial planning stages of looking at bridge designs for connecting the Schuylkill River Trail from the east side of the River at the Grays Ferry Crescent over to the west side of the River. This connection would be part of the Circuit Trails, linking the SRT to the west side of the river and leading bicyclists and pedestrians to Bartram’s Garden and, ultimately, Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River.
Around that same time, PennDOT was beginning to plan the rehabilitation of the Grays Ferry Bridge. The Bicycle Coalition proposed to the Streets Department and PennDOT that the Bridge be reconfigured with a bicycle/pedestrian sidepath on the south side of the bridge until the Grays Ferry Crossing was completed.
The conceptual proposal was accepted by PennDOT and the Streets Department, and in 2012, the City applied for and won a $400,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant to help fund cost of the side path.
Little did we anticipate that both projects would take over ten years to complete and would effectively be completed perhaps 12 months apart. The Grays Ferry Bridge construction began in 2018. The Grays Ferry Crossing, which won a 2015 TIGER grant, also began construction in mid-2018.
One benefit of the long timeline is that PennDOT incorporated a protected bike lane on the north side of the Grays Ferry Bridge into the bridge’s design after requests were made by 5th Square, the City, and BCGP.
Meanwhile, the Grays Ferry Crossing, which will make an easy bikeable/walkable connection from the trail along the Grays Ferry Crescent over to Bartram’s Mile, is also under construction.
This bridge will have a truss that can swing open and close to allow barges up to the Veola steam generation plant.