This guest post was contributed by Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, one of PEC’s key partners in the Circuit Trails Coalition.
The Circuit Trails Coalition has big plans for the future of the Circuit Trails network, and to make those plans a reality, it recently released an action plan that will guide the Greater Philadelphia region towards reaching its goal of completing 500 miles of trails by 2025.
To build a trail network like the Circuit, it takes a village. There are a variety of entities that have to work together to obtain funding, secure approvals and right-of-way, and so much more. And it’s not always a straight line from planned to progress. Sometimes trails can be completely funded, but lack one of the other elements needed to move into construction. And when planned trails get stuck at any point along the way, progress towards the long-term of goal of a completed 800-plus mile trail network slows down.
Thanks to this action plan, called Moving the Circuit Forward, one thing is certain: there are enough planned and funded miles of trail waiting to be advanced that will enable the Region to reach the milestone goal of 500 miles by 2025. But each segment faces roadblocks that are slowing down their progress. Here is what we know:
- Currently, the nine counties of Greater Philadelphia has completed more than 330 miles of the eventual 800 miles of trails that make up the Circuit Trails Network.
- Of the remaining 470 miles to be completed, 171 miles are currently in “pipeline” or “in-progress” phases. Trails in the “pipeline” stage mean that feasibility studies have been conducted, but design of the projects are not completed, or additional obstacles exist. The trails that are “in-progress” are fully funded, have secured right of way and design is underway.
- In order to reach the interim goal of 500 miles #onthecircuit by 2025, 166 miles of those 171 in “pipeline” and “in-progress” segments need to get completed over the next six construction seasons – which means both the non-profit advocacy and trail development community, plus local, county and state agencies must work together to alleviate the roadblocks slowing them down.
Listen: Circuit Trails Coalition leaders talk about new funding and plans for 2020 on the PEC podcast
So how do we begin to solve those roadblocks? In the action plan, the Circuit Trails Coalition has detailed 12 policy recommendations designed to accelerate trail development in a meaningful way in order to stay on track to complete the eventual 800-plus mile trail network by 2040, which is the timeline defined by the region’s long-range transportation infrastructure plan. They all boil down to one simple need: action and support from the region’s civic leaders and public agencies.
And if you are a trail user yourself, your support is also critical to our thriving trail network’s continued progress. We can advance these policy recommendations and the development of the Circuit Trails network with help from local community advocates like you! To reach these goals, we are enlisting your passion, dedication and excitement through the development of a new interconnected, multi-county network of advocates for the Circuit Trails. Are you interested in using your voice to make an impact? Learn more about how you can get involved here!