In past decades, each riverside community typically developed plans and projects individually rather than through collaboration. Currently, people are seeing the benefits of a more connected approach, and the riverside communities are now working together to improve transportation links, highways, bridges, trails, and gateways between each other and to surrounding towns.
The Wissahickon Gateway is the crossroads for the communities of East Falls, Roxborough, Manayunk, and Wissahickon. The Wissahickon Creek, Ridge Avenue, Interstate Highway 76 ramps, and bus and train lines intersect in this area. It is ironic that this multimodal transportation hub is also the most dangerous break in the bike trail and pedestrian connections between the communities. The Wissahickon Gateway Plan focuses completely on this area of connections - and broken connections - and its functionality as a gateway to our communities. The City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department is using the plan to secure funding for an engineering study for possible bikeway links through the Wissahickon section.
Plan showing possible trail routes through the Wissahickon gateway area
As planning moved forward for the East Falls and Manayunk sections of the river, Lower Merion Township also began to focus on a green space and trail plan for Lower Merion, which is directly across the river from East Falls and Manayunk. The plan focused on three bridges that cross the Schuylkill River between Lower Merion and East Falls/Manayunk, two of which are unused and one of which has little train traffic. At the request of Lower Merion residents, the communities began to jointly consider alternative bike and pedestrian uses for the bridges, and are now collaborating to move these trail projects forward.
In the Fall of 2011, the Cynwyd Heritage Trail was officially opened. This two-mile urban linear park winds through Lower Merion, between two large cemeteries, along the Schuylkill River, and will eventually cross over the river into the Manayunk section of Philadelphia.
Photographs from the Cynwyd Heritage Trail Masterplan showing the former conditions of the Neighborhood Trail segment and the inspiration for its future appearance