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.

Send a message!



1 Comment


  1. Where’s the grass????

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

 

Recent Posts
Protesting Dilworth Park's Lack Of Protests

Protesting Dilworth Park’s Lack Of Protests

July 22, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Saffron critiques priorities for central civic space, gentrification concerns scuttle Point Breeze mixed-use grocery proposal, and 30th Street Station gets a patriotic light show > more

On Callowhill, Channeling The Ghost Of Old York Road

On Callowhill, Channeling The Ghost Of Old York Road

July 22, 2016  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. takes us down to 4th and Callowhill where an out of place fire plug summons the spirit of Old York Road > more

In The Belly Of Girard Theatre

In The Belly Of Girard Theatre

July 21, 2016  |  Morning Blend

Some dramatic urban exploration in bodega, smaller and targeted Target store opens on Chestnut, and South Broad median get mile-long mural > more

U.S. DOT Workshop Explores Capping And Connectivity On Vine Street

U.S. DOT Workshop Explores Capping And Connectivity On Vine Street

July 20, 2016  |  News

The U.S. Department of Transportation held a two-day community forum on July 16 and 17 exploring design interventions for reimagining Vine Street. Stephen Stofka has the recap > more

State Bill Would Bring Automatic Speed Cameras To Boulevard

State Bill Would Bring Automatic Speed Cameras To Boulevard

July 20, 2016  |  Morning Blend

PA Rep. John Taylor introduces speed enforcement bill for Boulevard, Planning Commission OKs three projects, and crews cleaning up for DNC > more

After 16-Year Hiatus, Mid-century Public Art To Return To Public View

After 16-Year Hiatus, Mid-century Public Art To Return To Public View

July 19, 2016  |  Morning Blend

The “Free Interpretation of Plant Forms” coming to Chestnut Hill, Point Breeze assents to partial residential conversion of Walter Smith School, neighbor wants to save tree from development in Pennsport, and public schools to double as community centers > more