Wednesday, February 17, 2010

$23 million in stimulus funds awarded to Complete the Schuylkill River Trail and other trail projects

Read the Bicycle Coalition's press release here.
Inquirer story here.

The U.S Department of Transportation announced this morning that Philadelphia and Camden had been awarded $23 million from its extremely competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) worked with six counties and agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to secure the funds.

This multi-jurisdictional project, called Generating Recovery by Enhancing Active Transportation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey (GREAT-PA/NJ), will help complete a network of biking and walking trails throughout the region, focused on connections to urban hubs in Philadelphia and Camden. PEC and the Bicycle Coalition assembled the proposal along with Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities and Mayor Nutter's Metropolitan Caucus. The proposal received letters of support from more than 52 elected officials, institutions and non-profit organizations, including all four Senators and eight Members of Congress in the region.

The grant process was extremely competitive -- $50 billion of applications for $1.5 billion in funds resulted in only 3% of applications winning funding. The Philadelphia and Camden grant was one of only two awards that was devoted exclusively to pedestrians and bicyclists.

PEC and the Bicycle Coalition took the lead in coordinating the grant proposal to support important initiatives the organizations are implementing:

Complete the Schuylkill River Trail- A coalition of non-profit, development corporation and public sector organizations working together to articulate a vision for a completed and connected Schuylkill River Trail in Greater Philadelphia. The campaign has a website and online petition, to galvanize public support for a completed trail with over 3700 signatures.

The TIGER grant will fund the completion of several of the nine missing segments of the Schuylkill River Trail (full details of which segments have been funded have not yet been released).

East Coast Greenway- PEC is the regional organization developing much of the East Coast Greenway trail through Philadelphia. Once complete, this paved, off road walking and biking trail will form one continuous 60+ mile trail through Southeast Pennsylvania, and will become part of the 3,000 mile trail connecting cities from Maine to Florida. PEC is currently designing the trail along 58th Street in Southwest Philadelphia, and recently completed a feasibility study of the trail routes through Center City Philadelphia and in Bristol Township. Construction has already begun on portions of the trail in Northeast Philadelphia, part of the North Delaware Greenway Master Plan PEC created in 2005.

The full grant proposal request was for $36 million covering trail segments, bikeways, and bridge crossings in Schuylkill (1 segment), Montgomery (3 segments), Philadelphia (7), Delaware (1), Bucks (2) and Camden (3) counties. The $23 million awarded included the three Camden segments (including a ramp for the Ben Franklin Bridge walkway) and several of the Philadelphia segments.

The sponsors of the trail project segments that received funding include: Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia's Streets Department, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Bartram's Garden, Delaware River City Corporation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Cooper's Ferry Development Association.

A likely candidate for TIGER Funding is the "Boardwalk" - The over water section of the Schuylkill River Trail between Locust St and the South Street Bridge.


FissionChips said...

If you look at the original grant proposal (located on the Complete the Trail website), you can make a pretty good guess which of the bike projects are going to get funded. 
Philadelphia and Camden are the only two areas that received money under the grant. So, that eliminates all the proposed projects in Montco, Delco, Bucks County and Schuylkill County.

Camden received 5.8 million, so all three of their projects are going forwards.

Philadelphia asked for 20.4 million for their projects, and are going to receive 17.2 million from the TIGER grant. That means 3.2 mil worth of projects are not getting grant money.

Also, the intent of the grant was aimed at improving bike access to jobs and improving opportunities for commuting, as well as expanding bike access for poorer neighborhoods.

My guess is that two projects in Phila. are not getting funding. One is the Walnut Street Gateway (2.2 mil requested), which would have improved the streetscape where Walnut meets the Schuylkill Trail. The other is the gap on the Schuylkill River Trail between Shawmont Avenue and Port Royal Avenue (1 mil requested). Both of these are more nice to have than need to have, so I am guessing that given the math, they are what is not going to get funded.

The projects in Phila. that are going to get the 17.2 million from this grant are still very exciting:
CSX Ramp (connecting Schuylkill Trail and Spruce street, for 4.4 mil).
South Street Boardwalk (extending the Schuylkill Trail past the South St Bridge for 6.9 mil).
Bartram's Garden Trail (extending north from Bartram's Garden to approx. the Gray's Ferry bridge for 2.4 mil).
58th Street Connector (greenway connecting Bartram's Garden and Cobbs Creek Trail for 1 mil).
ECG / Delaware Avenue Trail (between Allegheny Avenue and the Betsy Ross Bridge for 2.5 mil).

It is kind of a bummer the neighboring counties got short thrift, but considering the fierce competition for these TIGER grants, we should be extremely pleased with this result.