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.

September 3, 2015

Schuylkill River Trail Named Best Urban Trail in the Nation

Local lawmakers and environmental officials gathered Wednesday along the banks of the Schuylkill River to celebrate the Schuylkill River Trail’s distinction as the “best urban trail” in the nation, according to a poll by USA TODAY.

USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best Urban Trail featured trails from across the country. A panel of travel and outdoor recreation experts nominated 20 trail systems located near major U.S. cities and turned to USA TODAY and 10Best readers to vote for their favorite trail.

Schuylkill River Trail photo 2

Representative Chaka Fattah addresses the crowd along the banks of the Schuylkill River on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

On a sweltering day, dozens of trail supporters listened to officials sing the praises of improved river access, better connected communities, and the increase of time spent outdoors. Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis spoke about the economic impact the Schuylkill River Trail has had in Philadelphia and beyond.

“Do good urban trails along waterways spur investment and economic development? Look around Schuylkill banks,” DiBerardinis said.

Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the former Montgomery County Commissioner and ardent trail advocate, spoke about the need to continue to advocate for trails. Other speakers included Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Dunn and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Quigley.

The Schuylkill River Trail is the region’s most heavily used multi-use, recreation, and commuter trail and maintains a strong reputation as not only a local amenity, but a tourist attraction as well. When complete, the Schuylkill River Trail is projected to be nearly 130 miles long, connecting five counties, and will be a key corridor of the Circuit trail network.

The Schuylkill River Trail’s win is not only a testament to its popularity for locals and tourists alike, but also the region’s dedication to improving access to multi-use trails and public space.

July 20, 2015

More Major Funding Announced for Delaware Valley Trails

Just as the Fourth of July weekend was about to start, residents of the Delaware Valley had another reason to celebrate.

On July 2 the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) announced it had voted unanimously to support the dedication of federal and private dollars toward 11 Circuit trail segments in Pennsylvania with $5 million allocated for design and construction. PEC is deeply involved in two of these trails and has participated in the planning or advancement of several others.

The Bridge Street gap on the D&L Canal Trail in Morrisville will receive funding to begin the process of designing two matching ramps and an at-grade crossing to safely transport users from one side of the divided trail to the other. In 2014 PEC worked with local and regional stakeholders to find the best option for unblocking this obstruction including the Morrisville Environmental Advisory Council.

On Spring Garden Street, PEC has been working for more than three years to bridge the connection between the Schuylkill River Trail and the future Delaware River Trail. This funding will provide resources for preliminary design of the Spring Garden Street Greenway. PEC also made major headway over the last year at getting the greenway back into the spotlight as a necessary piece of a safe alternative transportation and recreation network.

This type of funding mechanism has long been sought after for trail development. The Circuit is a network of regional trails and is officially adopted in the DCVPC Connections 2040 plan which lays out priorities for transportation funding of all modes in the greater Philadelphia region. PEC, along with a multitude of partners, worked hard to build the relationships that brought this funding to fruition. Along with funding from the William Penn Foundation these two sources will literally pave the way for 11 new segments of trail in the Philadelphia region.

Additionally, PEC and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia collaborated on a region-wide survey to better understand awareness of regional trails on the general public. The results were not surprising to regular trail users but were reassuring to see scientifically proven, as 85 percent support building more trails in their counties while 70 percent were in favor of spending $2 per person in public dollars annually to pay for new miles of trails. Sixty percent of respondents said they would like to have access to a trail, or more trails within 10 minutes of their homes. Of respondents under the age of 45, that level of support rose to 72 percent.

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