By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Groundbreaking was held today for a new project that will connect two bicycle-and-pedestrian trails, one in the suburbs and the other in the city of Philadelphia.
The project is anchored by the historic Manayunk Bridge, an inactive railroad crossing that’s been closed for 28 years.
The $4.1-million project is designed to extend the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, in Lower Merion, to the Schuylkill River Trail network in Philadelphia, via the Manayunk Bridge, built in a gentle curve on concrete arches over the river.
“The views from the bridge are unforgettable,” noted Lower Merion Township commissioner Scott Zelov, “and on a day like today, it’s spectacular and memorable.”
Sarah Clark Stuart, of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, says that by the fall of 2015 the repurposed Manayunk Bridge will be the first pedestrians-and-cyclists-only bridge over the Schuylkill River.
“It does so many things for one piece of infrastructure,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
The bridge first opened in 1918 and was last used as a railway crossing in 1986.
The Cynwyd Heritage Trail, nearly two miles along an unused railroad bed, runs behind Bala Cynwyd Park and passes between West Laurel Hill and Westminster cemeteries, ending at Rock Hill Road and Belmont Avenue.
The Schuylkill River Trail includes a 26-mile stretch from center city Philadelphia, through Montgomery County, to Phoenixville, in Chester County, Pa.
The Manayunk Bridge project will join the “Circuit,” the regional network of multi-use trails which currently includes 300 miles of completed trails in the region.