Philadelphia has prioritized the 75 trails proposed within its city limits – a decision that could impact which projects receive state, federal or foundation grant money and city capital dollars.
The priority list is part of the new Philadelphia Trail Master Plan adopted by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission this week. The Trail Master Plan is a joint effort of the PCPC and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.
Top priority proposals include portions of the Tacony Creek, Frankford Creek, Poquessing Creek, Schuylkill Banks and Central Delaware River trails. Sections of some of those same trails have medium or even low priority, however.
The city currently has more than 200 miles of trails, many of which flow through park lands or watersheds, while some are roadside. According to the master plan, several miles of trails were renovated or completed in the past two years and seven miles are currently under construction. Another 8.5 miles of trail are in design, and 13.2 more miles are in the planning and feasibility stages.
City officials consider bicycle and walking trails an important part of the city’s transportation network, said City Planner Jeannette Brugger, who managed the master plan process. Trails not only help people get from one place to another, but encourage them to exercise and enjoy open space, she told planning commissioners before their vote. Trails are also a form of economic development: People are paid to build them, people who use them may spend money in the area, and, studies have shown trails can help boost property values in an area.