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????

Recent Posts
Sifting Through Fairmount Park

Sifting Through Fairmount Park

August 3, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Digging up Japan’s introduction to the Western world in Fairmount Park, Penn’s year ahead in building, West Philly bridge being replaced, and flappers and bootleggers in Torresdale > more

A Salty Success On Susquehanna Avenue

A Salty Success On Susquehanna Avenue

August 3, 2015  |  The Shadow Knows

A pretzel baron and his booming baking business once burned with prosperity at the corner of 10th and Susquehanna. The Shadow pulls the little-known legacy of Oakdale Baking Company out of the oven > more

Temple To Get Its Boathouse Back By Next Summer

Temple To Get Its Boathouse Back By Next Summer

July 31, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Ground broken on Temple boathouse restoration, distillery to release Philadelphia-inspired gin, apartments beneath Manayunk’s elevated tracks, West Philly trolley tunnel closed for repairs, and the Independence Visitor Center reaches milestone > more

Initial Concepts For A Revamped Headhouse Square Revealed

Initial Concepts For A Revamped Headhouse Square Revealed

July 30, 2015  |  Morning Blend

A gateway planned for the Headhouse Shambles, Feibush still with more fight in him for 20th and Wharton proposal, fishing and the city, and crafting some of the world’s best guitars in Fishtown > more

A Spirited Quest: On The Trail Of Philadelphia's Distilleries

A Spirited Quest: On The Trail Of Philadelphia’s Distilleries

July 30, 2015  |  Behind the Facade

Craft beer may flow in Philadelphia's 21st century veins, but liquor manufacturing has a long, spirited history here. Nic Esposito gives a toast to the city's past, present, and future of distilling > more

Divine Lorraine Gets Go-Ahead From Architecture Committee

Divine Lorraine Gets Go-Ahead From Architecture Committee

July 29, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Blumenfeld gets design approval for Divine Lorraine reuse, reduced NIMBYism in Chestnut Hill, “toughest stretch” yet of Schuylkill River Trail opens, and ZBA stays true to height limits in Fishtown > more