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
With Pop-Up Beer Gardens Under Threat, Here's Why They Matter

With Pop-Up Beer Gardens Under Threat, Here’s Why They Matter

July 22, 2014  |  Vantage

With pop-up beer gardens seemingly everywhere (and now under threat), Nathaniel Popkin talks with the designer of most of them, David Fierabend of Groundswell Design Group, about the ideas behind the installations > more

Despite School Funding Crisis, City’s Fiscal House In Relatively Good Order, Says PICA

Despite School Funding Crisis, City’s Fiscal House In Relatively Good Order, Says PICA

July 22, 2014  |  Morning Blend

State board approves Philly’s next 5-year plan, infill once again proposed for Rittenhouse Square lot, groundbreaking for phase two of SugarHouse, source of stink in South Philly pinpointed, and another good second for the real estate market > more

Catalyst Of The North City

Catalyst Of The North City

July 21, 2014  |  The Shadow Knows

At Broad and Chew, the Shadow uncovers the story of a tragic figure and the landmark he left for the ages > more

Philly Market To Break $1K-Per-Square Footage Barrier

Philly Market To Break $1K-Per-Square Footage Barrier

July 21, 2014  |  Morning Blend

The Rittenhouse’s 19th floor to fetch $9 million, state reps out to effectively prohibit pop-up beer gardens, The Dalian on Fairmount gets $20 million loan, checking up on the Folsom Powerhouse, and knitting for Freedom on the Parkway > more

Sci-Phi: Isaac Asimov’s West Philly Years

Sci-Phi: Isaac Asimov’s West Philly Years

July 18, 2014  |  Vantage

He's not often thought of as a Philadelphia writer, but Isaac Asimov, one of the towering figures of science fiction spent three years during World War II working at the Navy Yard and living in West Philly. Bart Everts has the story > more

PWD Launches Bundled Grant Program For Stormwater Management

PWD Launches Bundled Grant Program For Stormwater Management

July 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

New policy assuages grant process for applicants, mandatory signs for construction and demo projects, Old City skyscraper tries again, micro-grants for Germantown, and the latest on Dilworth Plaza > more