Governor Wolf visits the Schuykill River Trail to announce new expansion southwest
On Monday, October 10, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf came to Philadelphia to announce a grant which will facilitate the expansion of the Schuylkill River Trail in Southwest Philadelphia, connecting Bartram’s Mile to Passyunk Point. Speaking on the trail itself, just south of its Walnut Street entrance, Wolf praised the work the Schuylkill River Development Corporation has done up till this point and all that their achievements demonstrate about industrial land’s potential for reuse.
“This [project] has turned something that people never even paid attention to into something very beautiful and very useful,” Wolf said. He himself enjoys walking the York County Rail Trail (a similar project in the north of the state) and his daughter introduced him to the Schuylkill River Trail when she was a student at the nearby University of Pennsylvania.
While Wolf emphasized the trail’s role in attracting and amusing tourists, he also said his administration wants to “make sure that every Pennsylvanian is within fifteen minutes of a nature trail.” And the local officials who spoke before and after him bore witness to the gains they felt the Schuylkill River Trail had brought to their communities.
State Representative Jordan Harris, who represents the 186th District in Philadelphia, described his vision for a trail which could connect the city’s outlying neighborhoods to its center. “For young people that lived in the neighborhood the trail touch, that they would be able to take part.” His office has given away more than 800 bikes to local children so that they will be able to ride them on the trail.
To further expand the trail, the state is supplying $3 million of taxpayer money, and more will be raised from local government, nonprofit donors, and the private sector. The money will be put not only towards infrastructure, but also ensuring the security of trail users and maintaining its permeable surfaces. Joseph Syrnick, the president of the Schuylkill River Development Corps, said that ideally, the team will break ground on the new section of the trail sometime next year.
Among the joggers, bikers, and city officials who came to see Wolf’s announcement was a cohort of young people in black sweatshirts who are part of the PowerCorps program, an AmeriCorps service initiative sponsored by the mayor’s office. Douglas Pickett, a corps member, explained that his cohort had spent the morning mulching nearby trees in preparation for the Governor’s visit, “so that they can grow healthy, big and strong.”