Philadelphia, PA - The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) worked with six counties and agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to secure $23 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program.
This multi-jurisdictional project, called Generating Recovery by Enhancing Active Transportation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (GREAT-PA/NJ), will help complete a network of biking and walking trails throughout the region, focused on connections to urban hubs in Philadelphia and Camden. PEC and the Bicycle Coalition assembled the proposal along with Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities and Mayor Nutter's Metropolitan Caucus. The proposal received letters of support from more than 52 elected officials, institutions and non-profit organizations, including all four Senators and eight Members of Congress in the region.
"This TIGER funding recognizes the value of collaboration across jurisdictional lines and amongst non-traditional partners - local governments and non-profit collaborators - to achieve a regional goal," said Patrick Starr, Senior Vice President of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. "We pursued this funding because we believe that job access and recreational opportunity are vital to the revitalization of our communities. Filling in the regional trail gaps in Philadelphia and Camden as the hubs of the system along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers is a game changer."
PEC and the Bicycle Coalition took the lead in coordinating the grant proposal to support important initiatives the organizations are implementing:
Complete the Schuylkill River Trail - The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is coordinating a coalition campaign to Complete the Schuylkill River Trail. The campaign is an effort among a coalition of non-profit, development corporation and public sector organizations working together to articulate a vision for a completed and connected Schuylkill River Trail in the Greater Philadelphia Region. The campaign has a website and online petition, www.completethetrail.info to galvanize public support for a completed trail with over 3700 signatures.
East Coast Greenway - PEC is the regional organization developing much of the East Coast Greenway trail through Philadelphia. Once complete, this paved, off road walking and biking trail will form one continuous 60+ mile trail through Southeast Pennsylvania, and will become part of the 3,000 mile trail connecting cities from Maine to Florida. PEC is currently designing the trail along 58th Street in Southwest Philadelphia, and recently completed a feasibility study of the trail routes through Center City Philadelphia and in Bristol Township. Construction has already begun on portions of the trail in Northeast Philadelphia, part of the North Delaware Greenway Master Plan PEC created in 2005.
"This grant is a giant leap forward in connecting Philadelphia's urban center, outlying neighborhoods and suburban communities via a sustainable and active transportation system," said Sarah Clark Stuart, Campaign Director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. "We couldn't be more thrilled that the Obama Administration recognized Philadelphia for laying the foundation of a truly connected multi-modal transportation system between 1970 and 2010 and is now going to provide the funding necessary to take that system to the next level so that it can be enjoyed and used by larger and more diverse sectors of the regions population."
The full grant proposal request was for $36 million covering trail segments, bikeways, and bridge crossings in Schuylkill (1 segment), Montgomery (3 segments), Philadelphia (7), Delaware (1), Bucks (2) and Camden (3) counties. The $23 million awarded included the three Camden segments and several of the Philadelphia segments.
"Take a look at Philadelphia and Camden's existing trails and riverfronts and you'll see families and friends having a great time biking, fishing, exercising, kayaking and commuting to work," said Spencer Finch, Director of Sustainable Communities for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. "These new trails will extend those opportunities to even more people in the region. It's an investment in providing a better, greener future for our kids."
The sponsors of the trail project segments that received funding include: Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia's Streets Department, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Bartram's Garden, Delaware River City Corporation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Cooper's Ferry Development Association.