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
Drexel Law School Gets $50 Million, New Center City Building

Drexel Law School Gets $50 Million, New Center City Building

September 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Litigator Thomas R. Kline donates big, Spring Garden Greenway preview this weekend, thoughts on Philly bike politics, and bagels coming to 7th & Walnut > more

Hot Or Not, Part II: A Drive-By Critique

Hot Or Not, Part II: A Drive-By Critique

September 17, 2014  |  Soapbox

New construction in Philadelphia is on fire right now. Perfect timing to feature another episode of "Hot or Not," courtesy of our indespensible drive-by architecture critic Jason Lempieri > more

City Hall Apron To Be Redone

City Hall Apron To Be Redone

September 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Improvements for Dilworth Park’s visual flow, more details on the Bridesburg land swap with Dietz and Watson, Philly Bike Share locations, and a “creative hub” in Brewerytown > more

Dilworth Park, On Balance

Dilworth Park, On Balance

September 16, 2014  |  Soapbox

The new Dilworth Park at City Hall has drawn a considerable amount of criticism since opening last week. Despite a few misgivings, Michael Bixler thinks that there may be a silver lining: inclusive, public appeal > more

Preliminary Plans For Maplewood Mall Presented To Germantown Residents

Preliminary Plans For Maplewood Mall Presented To Germantown Residents

September 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A community meeting unveils early design thoughts for the corridor revitalization, previewing phase 3 of Fishtown’s Icehouse, Penn teams up with Swiss firm for innovative cancer research facility on its campus, and Dranoff musing on the market > more

An Antique Swimming Hole Under The El

An Antique Swimming Hole Under The El

September 15, 2014  |  The Shadow Knows

A public bath for five decades, this brick-arched beauty now houses a brush and broom manufacturer. The Shadow dives into the history of this sunken treasure under the El > more