Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline were joined by partners from PennDOT, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Schuylkill River Greenways, and the Circuit Trails to break ground on Chester County’s latest extension to the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT).
Phase II of the county’s Schuylkill River Trail is a $6 million, four-mile paved extension that will take the trail from Linfield Road at Parker Ford to the new Route 422 Bridge crossing of the Schuylkill River at the Montgomery County border. Phase II also includes the construction of a new trailhead parking lot at Linfield Road and the resurfacing and paving of the county’s existing 5.75-mile section of the trail.
“Our trails, parks, and open spaces are such an important part of Chester County’s quality of place, and they are loved by our residents,” said Moskowitz. “In addition to providing recreational benefits that contribute to the positive health of those who live here, our trails, including the Schuylkill River Trail, are becoming an important component of the county’s multimodal transportation network.”
The Schuylkill River Trail is recognized as a local, regional, and statewide transportation priority, constructed as a “shared-use path for non-motorized modes of travel.” Phase II is funded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, and PennDOT is overseeing the construction of the four-mile extension.
“The value of trails like the Schuylkill River Trail is substantial,” said Maxwell. “Recreational use is important, but we know that trails are being used more and more for commuting, and businesses use them to attract and retain employees. We also know, based on the findings of our ‘Return on Environment’ report, that living close to protected open spaces, including trails, increases the value of homes by, on average, $11,000 in Chester County.”
The “connect” goal of Landscapes3, Chester County’s comprehensive plan, calls for the development and implementation of a countywide trail network that will interconnect urban and suburban growth areas and destinations. The Schuylkill River Trail extension also advances the goal of the Circuit Trails, a vast regional trail network that currently includes more than 320 miles of completed multi-use trails, with a vision of more than 800 miles of interconnected trails across the nine-county Greater Philadelphia region.
“This four-mile extension of the Schuylkill River Trail is also important because it will complete one of the priority ‘puzzle pieces,’ helping to fill a gap in the nearly 60 miles of trail connecting Reading to Philadelphia,” said Kichline.
The SRT Phase II project is constructed partially on a former rail corridor and partially along the former towpath of the Schuylkill Navigation Company Canal. When completed in Chester County, the SRT will parallel the Schuylkill River from the Route 422 Bridge at Pottstown, south to the Route 29 Bridge into Mont Clare, a distance of approximately 12 miles.
The Schuylkill River Trail will ultimately run from Frackville in Schuylkill County to the Delaware River in Philadelphia.