One year and one week after officials broke ground on the Port Richmond Trail, they returned to open the 1.6-mile segment, which runs along Allegheny and Delaware avenues to Lewis Street.
The trail, spearheaded by the Delaware River City Corporation and Pennsylvania Environmental Council, has been championed as a way to reconnect Port Richmond and Bridesburg residents with the Delaware River and as an important, early link in The Circuit, the proposed 750-mile regional network of walking and biking trails.
The Port Richmond trail, a buffered, road-side path lined with pervious pavement and dotted with young trees, runs through the industrial swath between I-95 and the Delaware River - a previously unwelcoming stretch that stood between residents and the river. While the trail is still bordered on either side by industrial properties, it provides direct access to Pulaski Park, where officials held the groundbreaking ceremony.
"This is a day that gives the river back to the people of Port Richmond,” said Ken Paul, president of Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic (PROPAC).
State Senator Michael Stack said that is the great thing about the project, that it connects the neighbors to the river and Pulaski Park. "That's the way it always should have been," he said.
Don Brennan, special projects director at the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA), which owns the Tioga Marine Terminal just down the street from the trail, said this portion of the waterfront is a sign of Philadelphia’s future - a future where a working waterfront and an active, accessible waterfront can exist in harmony.
The Port Richmond Trail is also a sign of Philadelphia’s well-connected future.
The trail is an important 1.6-mile segment of The Circuit, the regional network of bicycle and walking trails. To the south, the trail links up with the proposed Richmond Street Trail, which will travel along Richmond Street from Allegheny Ave. to Delaware Ave. near Berks Street. To the north, the Port Richmond Trail feeds into the South Bridesburg Trail, a 0.95 mile trail from Lewis Street to Buckius Street that is in planning stages.
While these trail segments all aim to bring new life to the Delaware Riverfront, the Port Richmond Trail is one of the first to be completed.
"The same exact thing that has been transpiring on the Central Delaware is what's already been happening here,” said Patrick Starr, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
He said that eventually the trails will connect recreational parks and assets along the Delaware River like the string of a necklace connects pearls.
The trail is also an officially recognized segment of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, a series of on- and off-road trails that will go from Maine to Florida and is approximately 25 percent complete.
“A lot of people in Philadelphia and other places are going to see the Delaware River in a way they never have before,” Mayor Nutter said at the ribbon cutting ceremony, where he also accepted a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a planning study to guide the clean-up and reactivation of brownfield land and to help the EPA understand how cities can integrate communities in this type of planning.
EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin, who announced the grant, commended the work that went into building the Port Richmond Trail and the city’s continued greening efforts.
“Under the leadership of Mayor Nutter, the city is one of the greenest in the nation, and one that other cities look toward,” Garvin said.
Christine covers transportation and writes about everything from pedestrian concerns to bicycle infrastructure, bridges, trail networks, public transit and more. Her favorite assignments send her bushwhacking through Philadelphia’s yet-to-be-cleared bike trails, catching a glimpse of SEPTA’s inner workings or pounding the pavement to find out what pedestrians really think. Christine also covers community news for Eyes on the Street, where her coverage ranges from food sovereignty to public art and urban greening. She first joined PlanPhilly in fall 2011 as an intern through a partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods website. During the internship her reporting on the Housing Authority’s surplus property auctions earned an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.