PlanPhilly

Trail champions: $23M from Feds a good start

    • GREAT-PA/NJ trail map
      GREAT-PA/NJ trail map
    • GREAT-PA/NJ trail map
      GREAT-PA/NJ trail map
    • Dan McCrady and his dog Sadie biked much of the East Coast Greenway route last spring
      Dan McCrady and his dog Sadie biked much of the East Coast Greenway route last spring
    • Mayor's Bike Ride PEC hosted last year along Schuylkill Banks
      Mayor's Bike Ride PEC hosted last year along Schuylkill Banks
    • 58th Street. PEC is doing the conceptual design for this segment now.
      58th Street. PEC is doing the conceptual design for this segment now.
    • 58th Street. PEC is doing the conceptual design for this segment now.
      58th Street. PEC is doing the conceptual design for this segment now.
    • 58th Street. PEC is doing the conceptual design for this segment now.
      58th Street. PEC is doing the conceptual design for this segment now.
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Feb.19, 2010
By Thomas Walsh, Kellie Patrick Gates and Anthony Campisi
For PlanPhilly


After receiving the joyous news that $23 million in federal stimulus money was headed toward the Delaware Valley for pedestrian and bicycle trails – plans that have been in the works for years – celebration time at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council this week was brief.

“Having gotten the TIGER money, we’re already working hard to get funding for additional segments to move them forward,” said Patrick Starr, senior vice president of PEC’s southeast region.

PEC worked with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, officials from six counties, and agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to secure the funding from the Federal government’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program. The consortium was called GREAT-PA/NJ, or “Generating Recovery by Enhancing Active Transportation in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.”

“We’re basically trying to tee up projects,” said Spencer Finch, PEC’s director of sustainable communities, in an interview with PlanPhilly on Friday. “TIGER was successful because we teed up a lot of projects as a region. We have been working on this for decades now.”

The TIGER money ($17 million for Pennsylvania; $6 million for New Jersey) represents one of only two such grants for the Keystone State (the other was $35 million for the National Gateway freight rail system in western Pennsylvania). A total of $36 million was requested in September 2009 when the GREAT-PA/NJ application was submitted, co-signed by Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler and other state and county officials. The grant will help complete a network of biking and walking trail connections to urban hubs in Philadelphia and Camden.

Locally, the money will plug gaps in the Schuylkill River Trail, and help bridge the regional effort to complete the East Coast Greenway.

“Our strategy has been to advance as much planning and design as we could, to be ready when a funding opportunity arose,” Finch said. “We’re going to continue to try to use that approach.”

That includes hopes to make the length of Spring Garden Street, from river to river, into the city’s east-west link for the East Coast Greenway. Because that plan still needs design funding – estimated at $400,000 – it was not included in September’s application.

It will, however, be a part of future appropriations requests, some of which were being sent out even as news of the $23 million was coming in. Most current application deadlines for additional 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation funding expired Friday. Finch said requests include about $11 million in additional funding for the Schuylkill River Trail, the $400,000 for Spring Garden Street and about $300,000 for trail work in Bristol Borough.

Getting the design work complete for Spring Garden Street would set up a situation akin to what TIGER presented, Finch said. Federal Recovery Act guidelines require “shovel-ready” projects that are able to be completed in two years. The Spring Garden plan didn’t fit that requirement, while others, such as the South Street Boardwalk extension of the Schuylkill River Walk and the 58th Street greenway connector, did.

“We have support from neighborhood organizations along the route – Northern Liberties, Logan Square,” Finch said. “It’s going to be a challenging project ... It’s only going to work if we get everyone along the corridor on board.”

Starr said the Spring Garden project is ambitious on two fronts. “We could possibly marry transportation investment with storm water infrastructure investment, and leverage funding from heretofore separate sources that don’t usually come together,” he said. “The design would help answer a lot of those questions. We’re really excited and hopeful. ... We’re trying to find that money.”

‘Multi-modal’
Andrew Stober, director of strategic initiatives at the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, said the TIGER grant leverages decades of work to build a regional network of bike paths for the Delaware Valley, allowing the city to fill in “critical gaps” in the system.

At the same time, Stober said that the project fits with the general tenor of the TIGER program, which is aimed at funding multi-modal projects that have been “too often overlooked by traditional funding streams.”

While the city only sent in one application for federal funds, other regional transit players also applied – though their proposals were turned down.

Among those projects were: the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Cottman Avenue interchange project on Interstate 95, transportation improvements sought by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dilworth Plaza reconstruction effort and new facilities at the Port of Philadelphia.

SEPTA had also hoped to snag TIGER money to help pay some of the $100 million in expected costs for the new Smart Card system. Though spokesman Andrew Busch said that “we were kind of hoping for” the money, the denied grant application won’t keep the project from moving forward.

About $600 million still remains in TIGER money because of an additional federal appropriation. Though the U.S. Department of Transportation hasn’t yet announced how that money will be distributed, Busch said that the agency will probably start a whole new application process, forcing applicants to reapply.

Only 3 percent of projects applied for nationally received the recent TIGER funding, and the Pennsylvania-New Jersey project was one of just two for bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

“It’s regional collaboration that made this work,” Finch said. “We were bi-state, multi-county, with full Congressional support from the delegation – senators from both states, representatives from both sides of the river, the governor of Pennsylvania... It was unique. I think that we would not have gotten this if there wasn’t this much support.”

Spreading it out
As for the $13 million of funding that was left out of the grant, Finch said allocation decisions will need to be made quickly.

“We’re working on it,” he said. “We either have to find new funding to fill the gaps or find cost savings. It’s a balance that we like to have – it’s much better to have funding that’s in place now, even if it’s not the amount that we asked for. To me, it’s a challenge I like.”

The Delaware River City Corp. applied for $2.5 million to help cover construction costs of the mostly riverfront trail it is building through Holmesburg, Tacony, Wissinoming and Bridesburg.

Paul Loni, the DRCC's capital program director, said he won't know until next week how much of that money was awarded. But whatever is received will be used on an 8,000-foot section of the trail in Port Richmond. One section would stretch along Allegheny Avenue from Richmond Street to Delaware Avenue, where Pulaski Park is located. “We are trying to connect the neighborhood to the park,” he said.

“There is going to be an actual amenity, outside of a necessary repair, for a very old section of the city,” Loni said. “I can't remember when a nice amenity was last added to an industrial area like Port Richmond.”

After reaching the park, the trail would then continue along Delaware Avenue to the Betsy Ross Bridge. The roadway would be shrunk a bit, but it would still allow for four cars or three trucks to pass at once, Loni said. An island of greenery would separate walkers and bicyclists from traffic, he said. The whole trail will be “green” in the environmental sense, and will include swales and other techniques that will calm water runoff rather than relying on pipe sewers, he said.

With this work, plus lighting, curbing, and the sheer length of this section of the trail, building it would take the entire $2.5 million, he said.

If the grant had not been awarded, the DRCC would have used federal transportation money to fund this section of trail. Now, that money can be used on another section, Loni said.

The road to the trail
The design for the Port Richmond section is expected to be finished by August. TEI Consulting Engineers of Southampton (Bucks County) is doing the design in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia's water department.

“I'd like to get it out to bid by Fall 2010, and if everything goes nice, have it completed in the summer of 2011,” Loni said.

Finch said all projects funded with the new TIGER money will get started within the next two to three months, with several commencing over the summer and a few later this year. “We are getting into the process of actually doing the project management,” and getting agency coordination down, he said. All trail projects must be “done or significantly completed” by February 2012.

Others around the city were delighted to see public money targeted at non-vehicular infrastructure.

"Obviously, we are working on the issue of bike and pedestrian riverfront access as part of our mission," said Steve Weixler, chairman of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group. “We are very interested to see these things promoted with grant money."

"This grant is a giant leap forward in connecting Philadelphia's urban center, outlying neighborhoods and suburban communities via a sustainable and active transportation system," said Sarah Clark Stuart, campaign director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, in a press statement from earlier in the week.

Contact the reporter at .

 


Attachment Size
Attachment Size
TIGER_Grant_GREAT_PA_NJ_Submission.pdf 16.76 MB

After receiving the joyous news that $23 million in federal stimulus money was headed toward the Delaware Valley for pedestrian and bicycle trails – plans that have been in the works for years – celebration time at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council this week was brief.

“Having gotten the TIGER money, we’re already working hard to get funding for additional segments to move them forward,” said Patrick Starr, senior vice president of PEC’s southeast region.

PEC worked with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, officials from six counties, and agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to secure the funding from the Federal government’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program. The consortium was called GREAT-PA/NJ, or “Generating Recovery by Enhancing Active Transportation in Pennsylvania & New Jersey.”

“We’re basically trying to tee up projects,” said Spencer Finch, PEC’s director of sustainable communities, in an interview with PlanPhilly on Friday. “TIGER was successful because we teed up a lot of projects as a region. We have been working on this for decades now.”

The TIGER money ($17 million for Pennsylvania; $6 million for New Jersey) represents one of only two such grants for the Keystone State (the other was $35 million for the National Gateway freight rail system in western Pennsylvania). A total of $36 million was requested in September 2009 when the GREAT-PA/NJ application was submitted, co-signed by Philadelphia Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler and other state and county officials. The grant will help complete a network of biking and walking trail connections to urban hubs in Philadelphia and Camden.

Locally, the money will plug gaps in the Schuylkill River Trail, and help bridge the regional effort to complete the East Coast Greenway.

“Our strategy has been to advance as much planning and design as we could, to be ready when a funding opportunity arose,” Finch said. “We’re going to continue to try to use that approach.”

That includes hopes to make the length of Spring Garden Street, from river to river, into the city’s east-west link for the East Coast Greenway. Because that plan still needs design funding – estimated at $400,000 – it was not included in September’s application.

It will, however, be a part of future appropriations requests, some of which were being sent out even as news of the $23 million was coming in. Most current application deadlines for additional 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation funding expired Friday. Finch said requests include about $11 million in additional funding for the Schuylkill River Trail, the $400,000 for Spring Garden Street and about $300,000 for trail work in Bristol Borough.

Getting the design work complete for Spring Garden Street would set up a situation akin to what TIGER presented, Finch said. Federal Recovery Act guidelines require “shovel-ready” projects that are able to be completed in two years. The Spring Garden plan didn’t fit that requirement, while others, such as the South Street Boardwalk extension of the Schuylkill River Walk and the 58th Street greenway connector, did.

“We have support from neighborhood organizations along the route – Northern Liberties, Logan Square,” Finch said. “It’s going to be a challenging project ... It’s only going to work if we get everyone along the corridor on board.”

Starr said the Spring Garden project is ambitious on two fronts. “We could possibly marry transportation investment with storm water infrastructure investment, and leverage funding from heretofore separate sources that don’t usually come together,” he said. “The design would help answer a lot of those questions. We’re really excited and hopeful. ... We’re trying to find that money.”

‘Multi-modal’
Andrew Stober, director of strategic initiatives at the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, said the TIGER grant leverages decades of work to build a regional network of bike paths for the Delaware Valley, allowing the city to fill in “critical gaps” in the system.

At the same time, Stober said that the project fits with the general tenor of the TIGER program, which is aimed at funding multi-modal projects that have been “too often overlooked by traditional funding streams.”

While the city only sent in one application for federal funds, other regional transit players also applied – though their proposals were turned down.

Among those projects were: the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Cottman Avenue interchange project on Interstate 95, transportation improvements sought by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dilworth Plaza reconstruction effort and new facilities at the Port of Philadelphia.

SEPTA had also hoped to snag TIGER money to help pay some of the $100 million in expected costs for the new Smart Card system. Though spokesman Andrew Busch said that “we were kind of hoping for” the money, the denied grant application won’t keep the project from moving forward.

About $600 million still remains in TIGER money because of an additional federal appropriation. Though the U.S. Department of Transportation hasn’t yet announced how that money will be distributed, Busch said that the agency will probably start a whole new application process, forcing applicants to reapply.

Only 3 percent of projects applied for nationally received the recent TIGER funding, and the Pennsylvania-New Jersey project was one of just two for bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

“It’s regional collaboration that made this work,” Finch said. “We were bi-state, multi-county, with full Congressional support from the delegation – senators from both states, representatives from both sides of the river, the governor of Pennsylvania... It was unique. I think that we would not have gotten this if there wasn’t this much support.”

Spreading it out
As for the $13 million of funding that was left out of the grant, Finch said allocation decisions will need to be made quickly.

“We’re working on it,” he said. “We either have to find new funding to fill the gaps or find cost savings. It’s a balance that we like to have – it’s much better to have funding that’s in place now, even if it’s not the amount that we asked for. To me, it’s a challenge I like.”

The Delaware River City Corp. applied for $2.5 million to help cover construction costs of the mostly riverfront trail it is building through Holmesburg, Tacony, Wissinoming and Bridesburg.

Paul Loni, the DRCC's capital program director, said he won't know until next week how much of that money was awarded. But whatever is received will be used on an 8,000-foot section of the trail in Port Richmond. One section would stretch along Allegheny Avenue from Richmond Street to Delaware Avenue, where Pulaski Park is located. “We are trying to connect the neighborhood to the park,” he said.

“There is going to be an actual amenity, outside of a necessary repair, for a very old section of the city,” Loni said. “I can't remember when a nice amenity was last added to an industrial area like Port Richmond.”

After reaching the park, the trail would then continue along Delaware Avenue to the Betsy Ross Bridge. The roadway would be shrunk a bit, but it would still allow for four cars or three trucks to pass at once, Loni said. An island of greenery would separate walkers and bicyclists from traffic, he said. The whole trail will be “green” in the environmental sense, and will include swales and other techniques that will calm water runoff rather than relying on pipe sewers, he said.

With this work, plus lighting, curbing, and the sheer length of this section of the trail, building it would take the entire $2.5 million, he said.

If the grant had not been awarded, the DRCC would have used federal transportation money to fund this section of trail. Now, that money can be used on another section, Loni said.

The road to the trail
The design for the Port Richmond section is expected to be finished by August. TEI Consulting Engineers of Southampton (Bucks County) is doing the design in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia's water department.

“I'd like to get it out to bid by Fall 2010, and if everything goes nice, have it completed in the summer of 2011,” Loni said.

Finch said all projects funded with the new TIGER money will get started within the next two to three months, with several commencing over the summer and a few later this year. “We are getting into the process of actually doing the project management,” and getting agency coordination down, he said. All trail projects must be “done or significantly completed” by February 2012.

Others around the city were delighted to see public money targeted at non-vehicular infrastructure.

"Obviously, we are working on the issue of bike and pedestrian riverfront access as part of our mission," said Steve Weixler, chairman of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group. “We are very interested to see these things promoted with grant money."

"This grant is a giant leap forward in connecting Philadelphia's urban center, outlying neighborhoods and suburban communities via a sustainable and active transportation system," said Sarah Clark Stuart, campaign director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, in a press statement from earlier in the week.

Contact the reporter at .

 





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