Trail Extension to Benefit Philly’s Walkers and Cyclists

The Takeaway: A NOAA grant helped leverage $36 million for the extension, part of an urban revitalization effort expected to enhance hazard resilience and the economy.

A planned half-mile extension of the Schuylkill Banks multi-use trail will expand Philadelphians’ access to the trail as well as to waterfront recreation, nearby neighborhoods, and bike-to-work routes. This extension gives pedestrians and cyclists the final link to an off-road route stretching nearly six miles. The Schuylkill River Development Corporation used a NOAA planning grant, administered by the Pennsylvania Coastal Resources Management Program, to leverage what is now an estimated $36 million, fully funded construction project.

Trail planners for this challenging segment are finding creative ways to navigate the area’s urban density, abandoned infrastructure, and impervious surfaces while safely extending the trail over water. It’s one piece of a multi-phase urban revitalization project that connects diverse and lower-income neighborhoods to the rest of the city. It also incorporates native landscaping and flood-resistant natural infrastructure.

Economic projections are rosy for the comprehensive Schuylkill Banks revitalization. According to a 2017 report, expansion of recreation spots and other amenities along just one area—Grays Ferry—could increase nearby residential property values by 15 to 30 percent and nearby commercial and industrial property by 25 percent. (2018)

More Information: Schuylkill Banks Trail

Partners: AECOM, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Coastal Resources Management Program, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers