Conrail Donates Swing Bridge To Extend Schuylkill River Trail

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A hulking, rusting old swing bridge in the middle of the Schuylkill River, stuck in the open position, is one step closer to swinging into action, to extend the Schuylkill River Trail from South to Southwest Philadelphia.

Conrail is donating the swing bridge, and the approaches on the east and west sides, to be repurposed into a functional cycling and pedestrian crossing, according to John Grady, president of PIDC.

“It’s going to bring more people, more recreation, more investment and more opportunity,” Grady said.

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State Representative Jordan Harris says it will connect the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail to the Bartram’s Mile section of the Schuylkill River Trail system.

“Two communities who may be divided by a river can be connected again by a bridge,” Harris said.

Construction is expected to begin next year for a projected opening in 2019. It’s funded by $10 million from the Commonwealth and a $3.2 million federal grant.

The span will be called Conrail Crossing. Built in 1902 to carry freight across the river, the 226-foot long structure sits on a central pivot. It’s been locked in the open position since 1984.

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City Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis says the next targeted link will completing a second boardwalk, south of the South Street Bridge.

“That’s going to be the finishing touch,” he said, “the ultimate connector of everything along the river.”

That’s a projected $24 million proposal that will carry the trail from South Street to the Grays Ferry Crescent.

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