Boardwalk hovering over the Schuylkill on track for late 2014

Posted: August 05, 2013

CONSTRUCTION ON the eagerly awaited boardwalk extension of the Schuylkill Banks trail is chugging along, with its slated completion date of August 2014 mostly intact.

Weather delays this winter, however, could add a month or two to the contraction timeline, said Lane Fike, director of capital programs at the Schuylkill River Development Corporation.

"They have to pour the concrete on the deck and that is dependent on weather," he explained. "We're pretty happy with the progress."

The 2,000-foot-long boardwalk will run parallel to the eastern shore of the Schuylkill, starting at Locust Street and connecting with a ramp up to the South Street Bridge. There also will be two outlook areas along the 15-foot-wide span, which was designed to be wide enough to accommodate bicyclists and walkers at the same time. The $10.6 million project is funded by federal stimulus grants through the Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery program (TIGER), as well as state and city funds.

The boardwalk will extend a trail that has become an important commuter access point from areas just out of reach of mass transit, such as Montgomery County, planners said. For those who bike to work in Center City, for example, where 44 percent of the city's jobs are located, the boardwalk will be as useful as it will be scenic, planners say.

"I like that they extended the Kelly Drive section so you don't have to worry about getting hit [by cars] or hitting people," South Philly resident Joe Gallagher, 26, said yesterday. He said he bikes along the paved trail a few times a month.

The outdoors website Active Times also listed the Schuylkill River Trail as number 12 of the 19 best bike paths in the country. The qualifications for making the list include the path's value as a commuter route, and its separation from traffic. Natural beauty doesn't hurt, either.

The Schuylkill River Trail, until recently, was made up of shorter, unconnected segments. Regional planners are embarking on a $60 million effort that will link one continuous trail from Pottsville to Batram's garden in Southwest Philadelphia.

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