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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Groundbreaking ceremonies were held this morning along Kelly Drive for a million-dollar project to improve the “Fairmount Bikeway.”

The Fairmount Bikeway links the Schuylkill River Trail between Falls Bridge and Ridge Avenue.  But Sarah Clark Stewart of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia says it needs work.

“It’s rutted, it’s too narrow, it’s in very poor condition,” she says.  “I’ve been told by some commuters that they avoid it all together and take Ridge Avenue.”

So, Stewart says, the $1.3-million improvement project will make the path safer, and may encourage more bicycle commuters.

Michael DiBerardinis, Philadelphia’s parks and recreation commissioner, agrees.

“I think these improvements are going to be much appreciated and attract more people to the trail here,” he said today.

The project, which includes a new river retaining wall and wider path, should be completed in June.

Within five years, officials say, the Schuylkill River Trail will run from Bartram’s Garden to Schuylkill County, Pa., a distance of more than 130 miles.

“We’re expecting thousands more people to come and use the trail once it’s completed, and those folks will come in and use the businesses in the neighborhood,” said Gina Snyder of the East Falls Development Corporation.

Reported by Karin Phillips, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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