Funding was approved for 13 Greater Philadelphia multi-use trail projects — including three in southern New Jersey – at yesterday’s Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) board meeting. The funds — totalling $3,988,608, with local matches amounting to $9,318,081 — will largely be used for trail construction, and were available through the third phase of the William Penn Foundation-supported Regional Trails Program.
In South Jersey, the Delaware River Port Authority will receive $400,000 for construction of the Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway Bicycle and Pedestrian Ramp, the Burlington County Department of Resource Conservation will receive $500,000 to move forward with the “Mansfield Community Park Connector” segment of the Kinkora Trail and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corporation will receive $250,000 to build one of the final segments of their namesake trail in the Carter Road area.
These relatively low investments stand to have a significant impact on the region, as they advance completion of The Circuit, the region’s multi-use trail network. As each additional segment is built, increasing numbers of South Jersey and Philadelphia area residents will be connected to an integrated transportation network that allows them to walk or bike to work, transit stations and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Improved walking and biking infrastructure not only improves transportation safety and the quality of life in the region; it’s also a good economic investment. In 2011 alone, it’s estimated that active transportation-related infrastructure, businesses and events contributed $497.56 million to the New Jersey economy. The collaboration and funding partnerships between trails groups, public authorities, DVRPC and the William Penn Foundation make these investments even more powerful. Each of the trail sponsor groups awarded funding will provide a minimum 20 percent match and many of them have secured additional funds from other sources over and above this amount to complete their projects. Technical assistance and oversight from DVRPC will ensure that all trail segments serve to connect the regional network.
As it now stands, this round of funding will be the final phase of the Regional Trails Program. However, members of The Circuit Coalition, including Tri-State, are working to secure $10 million annually, from a combination of existing federal funds, to allocate multi-use trails in the region.
Information on how to get involved in the campaign for sustained trails funding can be found here.