Northeast Times

Greenway is a ‘great vision’ in Port Richmond

A new neigh­bor­hood bik­ing and walk­ing path is meant to open up the Delaware River to res­id­ents who, for too long, couldn’t truly en­joy it. 

  • State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) speaks at the opening of the Port Richmond Greenway, as PROPAC President Ken Paul (center) and Mayor Michael Nutter (right) look on. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

  • Our Lady of Port Richmond School students make the inaugural walk down Port Richmond’s new bike-trail and footpath. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

  • A student celebration: Mayor Michael Nutter (at left) greets Our Lady of Port Richmond School students, who made the first walk down Port Richmond’s new bike-trail and footpath. SAM NEWHOUSE / STAR PHOTO

One year ago, on Oct. 22, 2012, state, city, and fed­er­al of­fi­cials came to­geth­er at Pu­laski Park in Port Rich­mond to break ground on a new bike trail and foot­path along Delaware Av­en­ue.

Al­most one year to the day later, of­fi­cials re­turned to de­clare the pro­ject com­plete and cut the rib­bon on a new 1.6-mile trail that is part of a 750-mile planned “gre­en­way” of trails along the Delaware River through Pennsylvania, which it­self is part of the planned 2,500-mile East Coast Gre­en­way pro­ject that will one day stretch from Flor­ida to Maine.

“This is only one piece of a great vis­ion,” said State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) at the open­ing of the $2.5 mil­lion pro­ject, held on Tues­day, Oct. 29.

Stu­dents from Our Lady of Port Rich­mond cheered and surged down the new as­phalt path, be­com­ing the first people to of­fi­cially walk the trail, after May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter cut the rib­bon.

“The school sup­ports everything that makes the com­munity bet­ter,” said Ren­ee Rozni­atoski, dir­ect­or of com­mu­nic­a­tions for Our Lady of Port Rich­mond. “To see any for­ward move­ment in terms of mak­ing the neigh­bor­hood a bet­ter place for every­body – I think it’s won­der­ful.”

Nut­ter com­men­ted that trails like this are es­pe­cially needed in Port Rich­mond, which doesn’t have many large parks or trails for neigh­bors to en­joy.

“Pock­ets of green spaces are scarce in this densely pop­u­lated part of the city,” Nut­ter said at the ce­re­mony. “This trail will of­fer res­id­ents a space for walks and bike rides, just minutes away from the neigh­bor­hood.”

For 59-year-old Port Rich­mond res­id­ent and com­pet­it­ive biker Hen­rik Si­en­kewicz, who at­ten­ded the rib­bon-cut­ting ce­re­mony, the new trail is a wel­come ad­di­tion to the neigh­bor­hood – es­pe­cially com­pared to his ex­per­i­ences bik­ing on Delaware Av­en­ue when it didn’t have a trail.

“It was very scary. Many times when I used the road, people were throw­ing bottles on me, people screamed at me. I didn’t know why,” said Si­en­kewicz, who ad­ded that he didn’t un­der­stand at first that he wasn’t sup­posed to bike on a street used by trucks and lack­ing an of­fi­cial bike path.

“I would have to go all the way to the Schuylkill to use their bike trail. Now I’m go­ing to use this one,” he said.

Port Rich­mond on Patrol and Civic (PRO­PAC) pres­id­ent Ken Paul at­ten­ded the rib­bon cut­ting, seated be­side May­or Nut­ter, and said that the new trail will im­prove the en­tire neigh­bor­hood.

“This is a day that gives the river back to the people of Port Rich­mond,” Paul de­clared. 

“For years, Port Rich­mond has been cut off from the wa­ter­front. For our par­ents and grand­par­ents, this was their Jer­sey shore,” he con­tin­ued. “Hope­fully from now on, the only traffic jams that hap­pen here will be from jog­gers and bikers.”

After cut­ting the rib­bon and let­ting the stu­dents of Our Lady of Port Rich­mond take the first walk down the gre­en­way, Nut­ter ac­know­ledged that Port Rich­mond’s gre­en­way is still sep­ar­ated from the neigh­bor­hood by a few blocks of in­dus­tri­al prop­er­ties.

“We have to fig­ure out how to make it all work to­geth­er. In­dustry is a big part of Phil­adelphia’s eco­nomy,” Nut­ter said. “What we haven’t done enough is to util­ize the as­sets we have.”

Util­iz­ing the wa­ter­front in Port Rich­mond is sig­ni­fied by both the gre­en­way and Pu­laski Park it­self, which was re­cently re­designed from an un­wel­com­ing park to a se­rene and clean space with new land­scap­ing and benches where fish­er­men can drop their lines.

The Port Rich­mond Trail, de­signed by the Delaware River City Cor­por­a­tion (DRCC), con­nects to the Ta­cony Creek Trail via new bike lanes on Castor Av­en­ue.

It will even­tu­ally be joined at the south by the pro­posed Rich­mond Street trail, which will run from Rich­mond Street and Al­legheny Av­en­ue to Delaware Av­en­ue and Berks Street. 

To the north, it will con­nect with the South Brides­burg trail, cur­rently be­ing planned to go along Delaware Av­en­ue from Lewis Street to Bucki­us Street.

Fund­ing for the pro­ject came from a TI­GER (Trans­port­a­tion In­vest­ment Gen­er­at­ing Eco­nom­ic Re­cov­ery) grant from the U.S. De­part­ment of Trans­port­a­tion, the Wil­li­am Penn Found­a­tion, the city, and a grant from the Pennsylvania De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion. 

For more in­form­a­tion on the DRCC, vis­it www.drcc-phila.org. For more in­form­a­tion on the gre­en­way pro­ject with­in Pennsylvania, vis­it www.con­nect­thecir­cuit.org. To read about the East Coast Gre­en­way, vis­it www.gre­en­way.org. ••

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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