Lower Merion To Assist In Funding Manayunk Bridge Trail

 

phillyshark.com

Last night in Ardmore, Montgomery County, the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $500,000 grant towards the realization of a multi-purpose trail atop SEPTA’s iconic Manayunk Bridge.

The vote follows weeks of number crunching in order to determine the status of the prospective project site and a more realistic summation of expected costs.

It appears that required safety-minded retrofitting, and the geographic inclusion of the city in the project necessitates an additional $400,000 in PennDOT “construction inspection engineering services.” Current estimates therefore put the plan just under $2.7 million, yet this merely reflects a “bare bones” model, as designers judiciously expect a less ambitious scheme to better attract additional federal and state money. Safety lighting, benches, landscaping, and other amenities will therefore have to be sponsored by private enterprises says Chris Leswing, assistant director of building and planning.

Leswing feels that the best option for closing the current $1.4 million funding gap is the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program (CMAQ), a federal initiative to “get cars off the road.”

Richard Weisgrau | Narberth-Bala Cynwyd Patch

Prudence

Commissioner V. Scott Zelov, Chair of Parks & Recreation, called the Manayunk trail an “extremely desirable project,” yet one that must be balanced by financial realities.

Philip Rosenzweig and other Republican Commissioners cautioned those present against being overly optimistic. The project’s execution would remain contingent upon various other smaller contributions.

“If you’re contractor you’re not going to accept a piece of paper that’s called a match. You’re going to accept a check.”

Rosenzweig also struggled to comprehend the admittedly complicated funding arithmetic. “Only in government can you admit these grants that qualify for each other,” he quipped. “It seems like the same dollar is counted three times.”

The actual half million dollars will not be dispersed until sometime in 2013, assuming that the CMAQ grant is approved later this year.

Manayunk Bridge Trail Rendering

The Community Speaks

One Lower Merion resident and member of the Friends of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail  submitted a survey (conducted on the trail) that shows both the wide variety of zip codes of users (read: economic incentives) and the virtually universal support for the project.

Inevitably, the meeting was unable to avoid the overused rhetoric of bridge analogies. Gerald A. Francis, the President of the Lower Merion Historical Society, compared the project to the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s construction, which only became a viable cultural institution after its two wings were adjoined.

Others commented on a “bridging the gap,” that is, the spatial and economic fusion of southern Montgomery County and Northwestern Philadelphia. (If anyone was bitter over the township’s loss of the Barnes Foundation to its metropolitan neighbor, it was held privately.)

Andrew Horvath, also of the Friends of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, summed up the trail’s support succinctly enough, remarking, “the Manayunk Bridge project is more popular than Mom’s apple pie.”

An analogous (and inspirational) endeavor: Poughkeepsie, NY’s “Walkway Over The Hudson” adapted rail trail

About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.



1 Comment


  1. Where’s the grass????

Recent Posts
The Tombstone Wall Of Society Hill

The Tombstone Wall Of Society Hill

October 17, 2014  |  Vantage

With October at hand and Halloween on the way, we thought a series on historic cemeteries was most appropriate. Our first story presents the strange tale of thirty tombstones that sit embedded in the back wall of the Presbyterian Historical Society > more

Existential Tug-Of-War Along West Cecil B. Moore Avenue

Existential Tug-Of-War Along West Cecil B. Moore Avenue

October 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

The identity crisis of TempleTown, Family Court opens, artist space coming to Grays Ferry, mixed-use for Ridge, inside the Bok storage facility, and PhillyU collects $60M > more

Improvements Possible For The Schuylkill Boardwalk

Improvements Possible For The Schuylkill Boardwalk

October 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

How to upgrade the successful trail extension, Temple investing in its athletic programs once more, developer slowly selling houses in Somertown, and lackluster restriping plans for Washington Avenue > more

In East Kensington, Housing Development To Replace Little Berlin's

In East Kensington, Housing Development To Replace Little Berlin’s “Fairgrounds”

October 15, 2014  |  News

Viking Mills owner selling lot that artists collective has activated for the past four years. Emma Jacobs reports on what's coming and why > more

Investing In Schools To Maintain Mt Airy’s Diversity

Investing In Schools To Maintain Mt Airy’s Diversity

October 15, 2014  |  Morning Blend

CDC seeks to pioneer new means of neighborhood diversification, some think Land Bank plan not explicit enough, why it took the Union League a century to install a ceiling, mixed-use in Queen Village, and a skyscraper sustainability race announced > more

Lisa Roberts: Inside A Design Mind

Lisa Roberts: Inside A Design Mind

October 14, 2014  |  Vantage

What makes good design and why should you care? Nathaniel Popkin talks to keen design observer Lisa Roberts, as her second book, DesignPop, launches tomorrow night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art > more