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The Manayunk Bridge Trail, a repurposed railroad bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians that is part of the Circuit Trails and connects Manayunk to Lower Merion Township, opened in October 2015 to lots of fanfare, and one caveat: It would unfortunately be closed at night until lighting for the bridge could be properly funded and installed.

This was a hard reality to cyclists and pedestrians who were excited to start using the bridge for commuting right away.

The funds for lighting were made available six months later in 2016—but it will take another 18 months from now, or so, to complete the project, according to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation.

Because the trail is part of both the Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation system and Lower Merion Township’s parks, it can only be used after dusk with proper lighting.

From the time the bridge opened, to present, a gate closes by Parks & Rec. staff leave around dusk. And it does not open until they return to work in the morning.

The initial funds for the bridge’s construction did not including lighting because the cost of repurposing the bridge into a trail ran higher than expected.  But in March of this year, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission announced it would provide $600,000 for lighting of the Manayunk Bridge as one of 11 projects that received $7.6 million in Transportation Alternative Program grants.

Those funds will allow the bridge to stay open at night, Kay Sykora of Destination Schuylkill River told the Philadelphia Inquirer in March.

Now, according to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the office of Planning, Preservation, and Property Management is engaged in initiating the design contract with a consultant.

The design, they said, will likely take 8-12 months due to reviews and coordination.

Construction of the lighting equipment is expected to begin in late 2017. The bridge is expected to be lit in early 2018.  Your patience is appreciated by all involved!

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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