By Kim Glovas and Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Schuylkill River Trail is getting a $3 million cash infusion to extend the trail into Southwest Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the $3 million state grant along the banks of the Schuylkill River at Locust Street.
The river project started 12 years ago and now stretches three-and-a-half miles along the Schuylkill within the city limits. The Schuylkill River spans about 130 miles and the trail that runs along part of it is about to get longer.
“The development of this portion of the Schuylkill River trail, from Bartram’s Mile to Passyunk Point, will modernize and beautify one of our greatest assets right here in Philadelphia, and it’s that river,” said Governor Wolf. “We need to take advantage of this river in a way we haven’t. And this walkway helps us do that.”
“I’m happy, very happy. Because then there will be more space for me and my friends to play,” said 9-year-old Juniper Nims, who uses the trail often with her father, Josh Nims, who works for the Schuylkill River Development Corporation.
But some trail users, like Christopher Dolotosky, think that the money could be better spent elsewhere. “I don’t think it’s a necessary expenditure. I think it could go towards Philadelphia schools. Other than people just using the trails, I think that would do our community a lot more,” Dolotosky said.
Governor Wolf believes both goals are attainable. “I have put money into education, but we have to do all the things that makes for a healthy community. I want to do both, and I am working to do both,” Wolf told Eyewitness News.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, whose district includes parts of Southwest Philadelphia, echoed that, saying, “This is a jewel here in the city of Philadelphia. I think we can do both. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.”
Currently, 29,000 people use the trail each week.
Governor Wolf says the state’s goal is to have every state resident within 15 minutes of a nature trail. In all, the project to extend the walkway more than two miles, will cost an estimated $13 million.
This grant money will be spread over two years, and will be used for a one-quarter mile stretch of the trail. A $20 million boardwalk is also planned on the southern section.
There’s no word yet on when the project is expected to be complete, although officials hope to break ground in 2017.