The Schuylkill River Development Corporation and The Pew Charitable Trusts today announced plans to design a new pedestrian bridge over the CSX rail tracks that will connect Center City Philadelphia to the Schuylkill River Park and trail, also known as Schuylkill Banks.
A Pew grant of $195,000 will support SRDC's efforts to plan and design the overpass. Plans include the formation of an advisory committee of neighborhood representatives, the city of Philadelphia, the Fairmount Park Commission and other leaders to help select an architect. Special care will be taken to ensure that the bridge is an appealing architectural feature that enhances, and does not detract from, the park's natural beauty and aesthetics.
Pew and SRDC want to ensure that the bridge is one we can all be proud of,” said Suzanne Biemiller, senior officer for Civic Initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “We hope that the bridge will provide not only a safe way for users to enter the park, but will also be a beautiful asset that complements its setting.”
The announcement follows an agreement by Mayor Street and CSX Transportation to allow construction of the bridge so residents can safely access the parkland along the river at Locust Street.
Over the last decade, Schuylkill River Development Corporation has worked to improve the banks of the Schuylkill River—a 1.2 mile stretch of trail and landscaped park that runs along the riverfront between Fairmount Water Works and Locust Street—encouraging residents and visitors to see the river as a place for recreation. The area now attracts 14,000 weekly users who bike, stroll and jog along the river. However, an actively used CSX rail line separates the Schuylkill from Center City, creating a barrier between the city and the parkland and hazardous crossing conditions for many park users.
“This is a terrific solution that benefits the city, CSX, and the residents of Philadelphia,” said Joe Syrnick, President and CEO of Schuylkill River Development Corporation. “The new bridge will provide people with safe and easy access to Schuylkill Banks and will enhance the current park and future improvements south of Locust Street.”