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A preview walk on Bartram’s Mile North in mid-March 2017

We are pretty excited about the opening of Bartram’s Mile North & South this coming Saturday (4/22 at 11am).  Not just because the Bicycle Coalition is hosting rides and activities after the ribbon cutting with support from Bartram’s Garden and the Knight Foundation.  Also because we have been working alongside among many organizations dedicated to helping realize the 2003 vision of a Tidal Schuylkill River Trail –completing the Schuylkill River Trail from the Art Museum to the mouth of the Delaware River.

In 2008, BCGP teamed up with multiple partners, (including Bartram’s Garden, Manayunk Development Corporation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Schuylkill River Park Alliance) to run a campaign called Complete the Schuylkill River Trail.  We identified 9 segments that needed to be completed in order to make a seamless connection from Montgomery County to Cobb’s Creek.  This campaign led to the City of Philadelphia winning a $23Million TIGER award in 2010 to build six of nine segments (SRT in Shawmont, Walnut Street Greenway, the Boardwalk, the Connector Bridge, the trail at Bartram’s Garden & the 58th Street Greenway.)

Bartram’s Mile was one of the segments originally identified in the campaign that was not funded by the TIGER award.  In an effort to generate excitement about the potential for closing the remaining gaps post-TIGER, BCGP and its partners led several walks in 2010 from Bartram’s Garden to the Trolley Works next to the not-yet-built Gray’s Ferry Crescent.

Departing Bartram’s Barn (Feb. 2010)

Walking along Lindberg Boulevard (June 2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also in 2010, a Community Design Collaborative effort conceived by architects Charles Loomis and Chariss McAfee envisioned how the trail would connect a new swing bridge down to Bartram’s Garden through property owned by PIDC and the City of Philadelphia.

In 2012, the City opened the Gray’s Ferry Crescent, just north of the swing bridge in South Philadelphia.  The City of Philadelphia led the effort to stitch together funding to rebuild the Gray’s Ferry Connector (also known as the Swing Bridge), which won another TIGER grant in 2015 and should go under construction later this year.   PennPraxis was hired the City to lead the development of a plan for Bartram’s Mile North and South (on the other side of Bartram’s Garden on the bank by 56th Street.)  These two sections will formally open on Saturday.

 

 

….until it was moved in 2016 to its current location on Bartram’s Mile North

This monument to the Newkirk Viaduct, a permanent bridge built in 1838 by the Philadelphia Wilmington & Baltimore RR sat isolated next to Amtrak’s NEC for many years….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these sections are now part of the Circuit Trails and are crucial links to making a seamless connection between Southwest Philadelphia and Center City.  Later this year, the SRT will extend from the Boardwalk down to Christian Street.  Once the swing bridge opens in 2018 or 2019, the next crucial gap in the SRT be will the Christian to Crescent Connector.

Sarah Clark Stuart

Author

Sarah’s foray into trail and bicycle advocacy began in 2004 when she became involved in the “Free Schuylkill River Park” campaign to preserve public access to the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City, now known as Schuylkill Banks. Since joining the Bicycle Coalition in 2006, she has been a key player in the Bicycle Coalition’s key accomplishments: the $23 million TIGER trail-building grant; naming and building out the Circuit; lobbying successfully for legislation mandating the inclusion of bike parking in new construction projects; Philadelphia’s Complete Streets policy; and coordinating research and analysis of several reports on bicycling in Philadelphia.