BRIDGEPORT – About 80 paddlers participating in the 21st Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn and several area representatives celebrated the newly completed river landing in the borough on Thursday.
The Bridgeport water landing allowed sojourners to paddle around the Norristown Dam in a much easier process than past years. Before the new launch point was created, kayakers and canoeists had to use a makeshift launch area lined with big rocks for the Bridgeport portage which made the passage extremely difficult.
“At the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area, our mission is to connect people to the river. Building public launches allows us to accomplish that mission by making it easier for residents and visitors to get on the river so they’re able to enjoy this beautiful, natural resource” said Schuylkill River Greenways Executive Director Elaine Paul Schaefer.
Julia Farrell Hurle, Schuylkill River Greenways trail program coordinator, oversaw the project and the necessary permitting needed to construct the Bridgeport landing. Hurle worked with Cedarville Engineering Group, LLC to design the launch point and M. Scavello, Inc. were the construction contractors.
Construction of the Bridgeport landing was completed Wednesday evening, just in time for the sojourners’ arrival on Thursday afternoon. Several area representatives and funders of the landing joined sojourners for a brief celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony during the sojourn on Thursday.
Schaefer and Bridgeport Borough Manager Keith Truman thanked funders for making the new landing possible. The funders were the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources which was represented by Regional Advisor Drew Gilchrist, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council which was represented by Program Manager of Trails & Recreation Lizzie Hesseck, and the William Penn Foundation.
“To the funders, thank you all for putting the time, the energy, and the resources into Bridgeport Borough. This aligns perfectly with the commitments we are doing to make this a destination borough which includes focusing on health, focusing on active activities and focusing on the outdoors,” said Truman.
State Representative Tim Briggs said he was grateful to Schuylkill River Greenways for the improvements made to river access and to the general health of the river. He noted that certain wildlife seen along the waterway such as bald eagles are a testament to the river’s health.
“We were at a Styrofoam press conference here in the fall and there was a beaver biting down a tree. It really is a remarkable turnaround,” Briggs said.
Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence also attended the Bridgeport landing celebration and said the work being done is “tremendous.” Lawrence joined paddlers on the sojourn during Wednesday for a stretch from Pottstown to Reading. State representatives Joe Ciresi and Joe Webster joined the sojourn as well when they launched Thursday morning from the historic Lock 60 in Mont Clare.
After sojourners used the new launch point to get back on the river, they continued to West Conshohocken for their last stop of the day. On Friday, the paddling group travelled from West Conshohocken to Philadelphia for the final day of the water excursion.
For more information about landings along the river and the annual sojourn, visit the Schuylkill River Greenways website at schuylkillriver.org or call 484-945-0200.