Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge Now Open!
After five years of planning and construction, Schuylkill Banks is now more accessible than ever thanks to the newly opened Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge. Pedestrians may now safely cross over the CSX railroad tracks from Schuylkill River Park to the river itself without waiting for approaching trains to pass.
On Saturday, October 20th at 1pm, about 200 people gathered to witness the dedication of the long-awaited pedestrian bridge near 25th and Spruce Streets. First Deputy Commissioner of Parks & Facilities Mark Focht welcomed the many friends, neighbors, charitable organizations and government entities that made this bridge possible. Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources Michael DiBerardinis, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, State Representative Babette Josephs, Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler, FHWA Engineer George Fleagle, SRDC Chairman Jerry Sweeney, Co-Coordinator of Schuylkill River Park Alliance Russell Meddin and Vice President of Friends of Schuylkill River Park Derek Freres also expressed their gratitude and excitement that the bridge was finally opening to the public.
Preparation for the bridge began in April 2007, when the City and CSX signed an agreement to provide a safer way to access the Schuylkill River other than the unprotected at-grade railroad crossings at Locust and Race Streets. Since then, the road leading up to Saturday was not entirely smooth. As Jerry Sweeney put it, “This eclectic group… did not always agree but worked diligently and professionally to reach a consensus. And today, we see the results of their efforts.”
Despite past differences, all speakers were in agreement when they came together to cut the ceremonial ribbon and invite the crowd to join them in the first of many leisurely strolls across the bridge. Some made their way across and promptly went on to ride their bikes along the trail or enjoy the adjacent Friends of Schuylkill River Park Fall Festival. But others stopped to take in the view from the top of the bridge: to the east, neighborhood dogs and their human companions played in the brand new Schuylkill River Park Dog Run and flowers bloomed in the lush community garden. To the west, the beginning stages of construction on the Boardwalk reminded all that soon the Schuylkill Banks trail will extend to South Street. Standing atop the Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge, we witness the strides that have been made to beautify Philadelphia’s waterfront and the promise of more to come.