Philadelphia – PEC and the newly formed Circuit Coalition today announced their campaign to enhance an existing system of pedestrian and bike trails and to complete an extensive trail network connecting the Greater Philadelphia region. The trail network, recently dubbed “The Circuit” following a region-wide naming contest, includes interconnected trails from southern New Jersey to central Pennsylvania. Along with the campaign launch, the Circuit Coalition unveiled a new state-of-the-art website that will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to map out safe routes before embarking on rides or walks.
The “Connect the Circuit” campaign, which represents unprecedented foundation, government, non-profit, and private sector collaboration, is designed to accelerate the process of connecting existing trails to one another and building new trails to fill in key gaps. Over the past two years, the regional trail effort has gained significant momentum following a $23.2 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for trail construction, $5 million in federal stimulus funding for the Chester Valley Trail, and a $10 million grant from the William Penn Foundation toward trail construction and planning for dozens of trail projects throughout the nine-county region.
“When complete, the Circuit will be one of the signature features of Greater Philadelphia – the nation’s finest trail network, providing non-motorized access from the Appalachian Trail to the Atlantic Ocean,” said Jeremy Nowak, president of the William Penn Foundation, a major funder of the project. “It will become one of the signature hallmarks that make Greater Philadelphia unique.”
The private and public sector are working together to advance this network of trails that when connected, will be the nation’s most comprehensive metropolitan trail system. The Circuit will make it possible for a person to bike or walk on trails all day long whether going north, south, east or west from anywhere in the Delaware Valley. Currently, the longest stretch of trails within the circuit measures 44 miles along the Schuylkill River Trail. (See attached for a detailed map.)
In addition to providing a cost-effective way to promote physical activity and enhance healthy lifestyles, the network could connect people to jobs, outdoor recreation, shopping destinations, schools, public transportation and other neighborhoods across the region.
“PEC’s work with the East Coast Greenway and the Tidal Delaware River are already filling in one key trail corridor for the Circuit. This work is transforming the Delaware riverfront from Marcus Hook to Morrisville, and across the river into New Jersey, from an industrial eyesore into a more balanced landscape and a recreational and ecological destination”, said PEC Executive Vice-President Patrick Starr. PEC President Paul King seconded Mr. Starr, saying: “PEC’s work out in western PA, with the Great Allegheny Passage and the Laurel Highlands – internationally-renowned outdoor destinations – now see a match in Southeast PA. We could not be prouder to be an integral part of launching the Circuit!”
The 17-organization Circuit Coalition includes leading non-profits as well as government and public agencies such as the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), the region’s primary transportation-funding agency. The Coalition has also gained critical support from private sector partners that value the trail network.
“Connecting the Circuit of trails in our region makes the Greater Philadelphia region a stronger, smarter, and more sustainable urban and suburban environment that attracts new companies and employers who choose to base their operations here,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Investing in trails will help grow and strengthen the region in addition to connecting it together.”
Added Camden Mayor Dana Redd: “The Camden GreenWay will join the Circuit of trails connecting our residents to riverfronts, open space, regional job opportunities, and transportation alternatives, adding to the collective strength of the Greater Philadelphia region.”
In conjunction with the “Connect the Circuit” campaign, the Coalition has launched an accompanying website – www.connectthecircuit.org – that will allow residents and visitors to access maps and plan bike rides, walks, and other outdoor activities using safe, local trails. The site will feature a social networking component, encouraging users to share their favorite routes and to join the conversation about the need to complete the bi-state trail network.
David D’Alba, 31, a resident of the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, is a videographer at Urban Engineers who helped name the Circuit in a contest sponsored by the coalition. He is a life-long cyclist who loves the region and decided that he could “name” the trail system.
“As a child, I used to ride these trails for fun. Today, I tow my daughter along one of these trails as part of my commute to work. I hope as she gets older, and the Circuit becomes more complete, she too will have the opportunity to enjoy these trails on her commute no matter where she works or lives.”
About the Circuit Coalition
The Circuit Coalition is a collaboration of non-profit organizations, foundations and agencies working to advance completion of a connected network of trails – The Circuit – in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Circuit Coalition’s goal is to raise the profile of trails and their public benefits so that building The Circuit becomes a significant regional priority.