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
My Favorite Place: Carman Garden Skating Rink

My Favorite Place: Carman Garden Skating Rink

September 30, 2014  |  My Favorite Place

Take a peek inside Carmen Gardens, where we'll be celebrating the Hidden City Daily's third anniversary this Friday, October 3rd > more

Demolition of Fishtown’s St. Laurentius More And More Likely

Demolition of Fishtown’s St. Laurentius More And More Likely

September 30, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Chaput decertifies Polish church, how to connect The Circuit, residences coming to 36th & Market Science Center project, and City Council reportedly mulling over selling PGW > more

The Legend Of Midtown Village

The Legend Of Midtown Village

September 29, 2014  |  The Shadow Knows

Chemistry labs, karate, puppet theater, and a prostitution ring? The Shadow strikes again! This week we hear about the Guilded Age real estate mogul Felix Isman and his bay-windowed beauty at 13th and Sansom > more

A Councilman And An Army Of Volunteers Clean Up The Delaware Riverbank

A Councilman And An Army Of Volunteers Clean Up The Delaware Riverbank

September 29, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Over three tons removed from Delaware River, scaffolding goes up around Lit Bros., a petition for better development at Clark Park, and four new homes in Roxborough > more

National Liberty Museum Hopes To Inspire An Appreciation For Freedom

National Liberty Museum Hopes To Inspire An Appreciation For Freedom

September 26, 2014  |  Morning Blend

The National Liberty Museum updates its exhibitions, AAA claims vested rights for Pennsport project, Google to drop “Temple Town” designation, and some surprise storm water management work next to Dickinson Square Park > more

Brewing With Solidarity At Win Win Coffee Bar

Brewing With Solidarity At Win Win Coffee Bar

September 26, 2014  |  Walk the Walk

A cooperative-run coffee and cocktail bar on Spring Garden Street goes deep for the Win Win. Joseph Brin has this story of building a business with consensus > more