When it comes to PEC’s work in trail development, bridging trail gaps is at the core of its mission.
Aug. 19 was an important day as PEC was able to celebrate the hard work and cooperation of many people in Southeast Pennsylvania at the Sullivan’s Bridge ribbon-cutting ceremony. The bridge now officially connects the Valley Forge National Historic Park to the Schuylkill River Trail as well as Chester and Montgomery Counties.
With hundreds of trail supporters on hand, along with officials such as PennDot Secretary Leslie S. Richards, Senator John Rafferty, Rep. Brendan Boyle, Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Val Arkoosh, and others, the 14 x 602 foot bridge officially transformed from mere concept to reality.
Addressing the crowd, Secretary Richards discussed how a bipartisan coalition of federal, state, and local elected representatives worked together for over two decades with the National Parks Service and volunteer groups to build the bicycle and pedestrian connection over the Schuylkill River. She also referenced PennDOT’s new program, PennDOT Connects, which will prioritize citizen feedback in PennDOT projects across the Commonwealth.
The next day, PEC’s Schuylkill River Town Program, partnering with Valley Forge National Historic Park, continued the celebration. Schuylkill River Towns hosted an event offering free bike rentals, guided bike tours of Valley Forge, traditional American music, and a chance to cross the new trail user-friendly bridge.
Nearly 1,000 people came through the event to gather information about the Schuylkill River Trail, Valley Forge National Historic Park, and the Schuylkill River Towns. Many people were not aware of the new connection to Valley Forge, but everyone was very excited to learn that another gap in the Circuit Trails had finally closed.
The former pedestrian bridge that spanned the river was torn down in the early 1990’s due to metal corrosion. Soon after, a rickety side path was attached to the highway bridge that connects the two sides of Valley Forge, but cyclists and pedestrians felt unsafe as they crossed over the river.
The local community has continued to advocate for the construction of a new bridge ever since. While the original bridge was named the Betzwood Bridge, a 2013 contest held by the National Park Service and the Friends of Valley Forge National Park dubbed the new bridge “Sullivan’s Bridge.” The name is a tribute to Major General John Sullivan, the officer assigned to build a bridge across the Schuylkill River by George Washington during the Continental Army’s winter encampment in Valley Forge.