Upon the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the Master Plan for Central Delaware, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is thrilled to officially turn the newly completed 3-mile multimodal path over to the public for their leisure and enjoyment.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 29, 2022) – A major milestone in the Master Plan for Central Delaware, the highly anticipated Delaware River Trail (DRT) is complete and fully open for public use and enjoyment, transforming the way Philadelphians and visitors can access and benefit from everything that the Delaware River Waterfront has to offer including wonderful public spaces such as Penn Treaty Park, Race Street Pier, Cherry Street Pier, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and Winterfest, Spruce Street Harbor Park, Washington Avenue Pier, and Pier 68.
“Citizens who participated in the 2012 Master Plan for Central Delaware were very clear: they wanted direct access to the water and to unify the waterfront with a connected trail system. And now they have it,” said DRWC President Joe Forkin, “We just could not be more proud to hand this project over to all of the runners, cyclists, skateboarders, Segway riders…anyone and everyone who are already showing us how needed this trail has been and how much it will serve our community. It’s a big moment for the Waterfront and the City of Philadelphia. We have accomplished such an enormous amount in the 10 years since the Master Plan for Central Delaware was adopted. And with this huge undertaking of the trail complete, we are on track to transform access to the Waterfront in an even bigger way with the development of the new Park at Penn’s Landing which is well underway. It is truly astonishing what we can all do when we work together to make things better for everyone.”
The completed DRT runs 3.3 miles from Pier 70 in South Philadelphia to Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown, including interim trail segments between Tasker Street and Washington Avenue. DRWC is actively pursuing acquisition, design, and construction funding to extend the trail north to Allegheny Avenue and south to Oregon Avenue, consistent with the vision established in the Master Plan.
"It wasn't that long ago that Philadelphians had little to no relationship with much of the Delaware River Waterfront. It was an incredible resource for leisure and activity, ripe with potential that remained largely unrealized. With the help of community input, support from numerous local organizations, and the incredible vision of its leaders, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has completely transformed this public treasure—and today hundreds of thousands of people visit the waterfront every year, from Washington Avenue Park to Spruce Street Harbor Park, Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest and Winterfest, Cherry Street Pier and beyond,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. "The recent completion of the central Delaware River Trail marks another major milestone for the Waterfront and the entire city. It is also the gateway project in the Master Plan for Central Delaware that literally and figuratively paves the way for the Park at Penn's Landing which will be the keystone component in connecting our great city to its eastern waterfront."
Preliminary design for the DRT began in 2013. Segments of the trail were built between Spring Garden Street and Rivers Casino in 2013, between Pier 70 Boulevard and Tasker Street in 2018, and between Rivers Casino and Penn Treaty Park in 2019. The Central Segment of the Delaware River Trail, running between Washington Avenue and Spring Garden Street, began construction in the summer of 2020. The DRT features a bi-directional asphalt bike path, separated from a concrete pedestrian walkway of roughly 15’ width adjacent to the river. Unlike on a multi-use trail, this allows for safe separation for cyclists and pedestrians. This trail design is the first of its kind in the city of Philadelphia and represents a commitment to high-quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure for residents and visitors of the waterfront.
According to research and design guidance from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), this kind of cycle facility fully separated from vehicle traffic is termed an “all ages” design appealing to all bike-ability levels. All crossings, ramps, grades, and surfaces are ADA accessible, and tactile warning strips throughout will indicate the presence of the trail to the visually impaired.
The Master Plan for Central Delaware specified that in the southern and northern sections of the waterfront, where space was more abundant, the trail would run along the river’s edge, and that in the central section it would run along the east side of Columbus Boulevard/Delaware Avenue. It also provides general guidelines for its design, specifying that it should include a bi-directional bike path, a separate pedestrian walkway, and a planted zone for trees and landscaping to provide a buffer from adjacent parking and vehicular driving lanes.
The City of Philadelphia committed $20 million towards the construction of this segment of the Delaware River Trail as part of its contribution to the Central Access Philadelphia (CAP) project, a $225-million effort to bridge I-95 at Penn’s Landing with an engaging civic space connecting seamlessly to the river. While that project is ongoing, the final design and construction of the trail were accelerated so that it could be completed before the construction of the cap over the highway.
Looking ahead at the largest component of the Master Plan for Central Delaware, the completion of the DRT marks the culmination of the first phase of the new Park at Penn’s Landing, an effort to rebuild and enhance this important civic space.
“Public spaces such as trails, piers, and parks are places that connect communities and that aspire to be welcoming and accessible for all,” said Kathy Christiano, Board Chair of the William Penn Foundation. “Creating spaces that do just that has been at the center of our public space grantmaking and our support of the Delaware Waterfront’s redevelopment. It’s why we are so excited about the opening of this new trail, and we look forward to continued momentum with the upcoming Park at Penn’s Landing.”
- Over 3 miles of curb-separated, bi-directional asphalt bike path separated from a sidewalk for walking and running
- Landscaped planting beds that provide safe buffers between different modes of traffic, that include hundreds of new trees and beautiful, seasonal shrubs and grasses
- 120 new Solar-powered pedestrian light poles
- Distinctive furnishings, including benches, bicycle racks (including a two-tier bicycle shelter at Spruce Street Harbor Park), trash and recycling cans
- A bicycle and pedestrian counter at Spruce Street Harbor Park depicting monthly and yearly numbers of cyclists and pedestrians
- Increased stormwater management through new inlets and strategic garden beds
- Easier access to the public, commercial, and residential spaces along the trail
THE TRAIL AND PUBLIC ART
The Delaware River Trail is also home to a brand new public art installation, completed in April. Weaver’s Knot: Sheet Bend, is a site-specific public artwork by Studio Ball Nogues located between Cherry Street Pier and Race Street Pier on Columbus Boulevard. The piece was realized through the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy’s (OACCE) Percent for Art Program and DRWC’s Waterfront Arts Program. The Waterfront Arts Program aims to activate the Waterfront with high-quality, innovative public and performance art that embraces non-traditional venues, and establishes the Delaware River Waterfront as a cultural destination for the City.
The artwork takes the form of a giant knot constructed in stainless steel spheres with a shiny finish which gives them a mirrored, reflective appearance. The spheres range in size and are welded together to create the knot shape. The knot shape is attached to tall steel poles with wire rope cables and suspended overhead. The entire structure is 21 ft. tall. Weaver’s Knot and Sheet Bend are traditional names for a knot used to bind different thicknesses of rope. The knot acknowledges the history of textile production and sailing on the Delaware River and serves as a reminder of Philadelphia citizens whose lives intertwine to weave the fabric of community: person to person, one knot at a time.
“The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is thrilled to introduce this stunning Percent for Art commission by Ball-Nogues Studio as part of the Delaware River Trail project and the City’s permanent public art collection,” said Marguerite Anglin, Public Art Director. “Weaver’s Knot: Sheet Bend visually and symbolically reflects the intertwining of people, place, and history that the Delaware River Trail represents to Philadelphians and visitors alike.”
Enacted in 1959, the City of Philadelphia’s Percent for Art ordinance requires that one percent of the total dollar amount of any construction project that includes City funds be devoted to the commissioning of site-specific public art. The first of its kind in the nation, the program has commissioned more than 300 works of art. The intent of the Percent for Art Ordinance is to enhance the City’s public environment by incorporating exceptional site-specific works of art.
The Delaware River Trail is made possible with the help of many partners and funders including the City of Philadelphia, City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy , Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the William Penn Foundation.
The trail is part of the East Coast Greenway and the Circuit, a vast regional network of hundreds of miles of multi-use trails across Pennsylvania and New Jersey that is growing each year. It also creates an important connection to Spring Garden Street, the site of a planned Greenway connecting the Delaware River to the Schuylkill River.