The Circuit Trails – Greater Philadelphia’s Regional Trail Network

PEC has been a key factor in the creation of The Circuit Trails as a policy leader and as an implementer of trails, particularly the building of the East Coast Greenway, a key trunk line.

Greater Philadelphia is the proud home of The Circuit Trails, a vast regional trail network, composed of hundreds of miles of interconnected trails, that is growing in size each year. One of America’s largest trail networks, The Circuit Trails is currently composed of more than 300 miles of completed trails with a vision of completing 800 miles of trails across the nine-county region in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Nearly 65 nonprofit organizations, foundations and agencies is working to advance the completion of The Circuit Trails. A premiere regional amenity, The Circuit Trails connect people to jobs, communities, parks and waterways. Learn more at and connect with The Circuit Trails on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out what is happening #onthecircuit.

Recreation The Circuit photo-Patrick

In June 2013, local children who rehabbed donated bikes and “earned” them to keep are the first official users of the 58th Street Greenway.

PEC is a driving force in The Circuit Trails’ creation, and our Executive Vice President, Patrick Starr, was elected Vice Chair for Pennsylvania of the Circuit Coalition Steering Committee in 2013. The Circuit was formally announced in May, 2012. Reflecting the broad consensus about the importance of this inter-connected network of trails, The Circuit Trails is included in the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s (DVRPC) comprehensive plan for the nine county two-state region.

The William Penn Foundation invested $10 million in the planning and implementation of The Circuit Trails by creating the Regional Trails Fund at the DVRPC. Now fully expended, that fund leveraged another $12 million in resources from agencies, local governments, and others. The Circuit Coalition continues to advocate for dedicated funding to support full build-out estimated at $250 million.

We have long held that getting Pennsylvanians outdoors to experience the Commonwealth’s rich natural resources is essential to cultivating environmental champions and stewards. PEC has been involved in the planning and implementation of the East Coast Greenway (ECG) for more than a decade, and the ECG is one of the trunk lines of The Circuit Trails. In 2009, we were instrumental in obtaining a TIGER grant (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Opportunity) on the behalf of the City’s of Philadelphia and Camden, N.J., to build 10 segments of the Circuit. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided $23 million to this very successful effort.

More than 350 miles built since the creation of The Circuit Trails in 2012.

2.3%: The rate of bicycle commuting in Philadelphia, the highest rate among the 10 largest US cities.

$69,000: The additional value to homes within a quarter mile of the Radnor Valley Trail attributable to trail proximity.

July 8, 2016

Officials Break Ground on K&T Rail Trail

A small part of the larger East Coast Greenway, the Kensington & Tacony (K&T) rail trail on the Delaware Riverfront broke ground last month.

Local officials, including the likes of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and former congressman Robert Borski, joined PEC Executive Vice President Patrick Starr at Lardner’s Point Park for the event.

An area that was a derelict brownfield just ten years ago, now serves as an I-95 connector of sorts from Trenton to Wilmington through densely populated communities along the Delaware River, while also serving as a part of the Circuit Trails.

  • Former Congressman Robert Borski

PEC assisted in the trail’s development every step of the way. We developed the plan that laid out the vision expressed by hundreds of participants and from dozens of meetings drawn from Northeast Philadelphia’s riverfront neighborhoods. We also negotiated the agreement of sale of the K&T by Conrail to the City of Philadelphia, and we did our due diligence that included a Phase I and Phase II environmental assessment.

Starr testified before City Council to urge that Philadelphia acquire the K&T with funds PEC had raised, and urged the Fairmount Park Commission to accept responsibility for both the Lardner’s Point brownfield and the derelict K&T right of way. They did so, buying fully into the vision of a “pearl necklace” of Delaware riverfront parks connected by a trail to complement the Schuylkill River Park.

PEC sold the vision to funding partners such as the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the City of Philadelphia, and the William Penn Foundation who subsequently funded the Delaware River City Corporation, to turn the plan into reality. The DRCC has seen the vision of the plan through and capably and responsibly shepherded one project after another to completion.

Soon, the K&T Trail and it connecting trail networks will extend in both directions, becoming a functional trail that one day will lead south to Key West or north to Canada!

May 2, 2016

PEC Helps to Celebrate The Circuit Trails Kick-Off Weekend

On April 15, a wide group of advocates unveiled the new website and branding for The Circuit Trails. Formerly known just as the “Circuit”, the new name, logo, and collateral materials reflect an effort to promote the regional trail network to a broad group of trail users and supporters.

Circuit relaunch DCNR secretary photo 2

Philadelphia Managing Director and former Pennsylvania DCNR Secretary Mike DiBerardinis took to the podium at the The Circuit Trails Opening Weekend Kick-Off event.

At the introductory press conference to celebrate the launch, government leaders from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, along with civic officials, corporate representatives, Philadelphia Eagles defense end Connor Barwin, and nearly 100 cyclists and trail fans joined together for the unveiling of the new Proud to Trail campaign. The group also challenged people across the region to not only get out on the trails, but to share their trail stories as part of the new campaign.

But the press conference was just the start of a weekend-long series of events, including two sponsored by PEC.

As part of PEC’s Schuylkill River Towns program, Program Manager for Trails and Recreation Lizzie Hessek developed a “Passport to the River Towns” event. Families or individuals could pick up a physical passport at a variety of business in Conshohocken, Phoenixville, or Norristown. Within the passport were businesses or locations the participants had to visit to get a reward. If participants accurately followed the map to each stop, they would receive Circuit Trails memorabilia, as well as discounts for those enjoying the event.

Light Bright Ride photo 2

Participants in PEC’s Light Bright Ride traveled throughout Philadelphia on April 16.

In addition to the Schuylkill River Towns event, PEC also led a “Light Bright Ride” on April 16. Riders who took part in the unique nighttime bike event throughout Philadelphia received flashing LED lights that clipped onto the spokes of their bike wheels. When the wheels started to turn the lights lit up patterns on the wheel. With over 30 riders, the effect was magical on a darkened stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail. Intended to highlight the variety of ways in which riders could be “Proud to Trail”, the Light Bright Ride was a one-of-a-kind event that engaged a wide range of cyclists and trail enthusiasts.

Proud to Trail and the new website were designed to amplify and unify all of the trail advocacy and programming work that is happening across the nine-county Circuit Trails region that spans Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern/Central New Jersey. Currently more than 300 miles of Circuit Trails are complete, while another 50 are in development. A total of approximately 750 miles of interconnected trails are planned.

PEC is working on projects across the Circuit Trails including the East Coast Greenway, the D&L Trail, the Schuylkill River Trail, and many more.

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