Marking another passage from abandoned railway to new community pathway, city and state officials broke ground on the first phase of the K&T Trail this afternoon at Lardner’s Point Park.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell joined State Sen. John Sabatina, State Rep. John Taylor, State Rep. Michael Driscoll and members of the community in celebrating the newest addition to the city’s trail network.
The new pathway will extend from the Frankford Boat Launch to Magee Avenue, connecting residents in the Wissinoming and Tacony neighborhoods along the Delaware River.
Kenney, who gave the opening speech at the ceremony, said the trail was crucial in providing more accessto the river for families and children as a continuing commitment to the Nutter administration’s efforts for open spaces. Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Circuit Trails Patrick Starr said it was particularly special because it “brings people right to the Delaware River” as “there are very few opportunities for residents to access [it].”
The projected 1.15-mile trail includes the section already built through Lardner’s Point Park and will follow the path of the former Kensington and Tacony Railroad, providing an additional 4.5 acres of open, green space for residents and visitors–a component that Kenney believes is “very important for every neighbor in our city to have.” As part of the Circuit Trails, Greater Philadelphia’s multi-use trail network, the new pathway will complete nearly 70% of the North Delaware Greenway Trail.
Driscoll, raising his arms towards the expansive river that served as his backdrop, expressed delight on the podium about the park’s dramatic transformation from tire wasteland to “beautiful park.” Driscoll, who lives just two miles up the river from Lardner’s Point Park, alluded to a fox he found in his driveway and a bald eagle sighting as testaments to the success of the city’s commitment to a greener Philadelphia.
The $2.9 million project, expected to be completed by next year under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Department in partnership with the Delaware River City Corporation (DRCC), will feature 20 interpretive signs on the history and natural environment of the area as well as extensive plantings to include 80 trees, 1,000 shrubs, 5,700 grass and perennial plants and a few acres of native meadows.
“Our kids deserve … better,” Kenney said. “And we’re going to make sure we provide that for them.”
Officials expect the trail not only to unite neighborhoods and continue ongoing efforts for environmental preservation in the city but also to “revitalize economies along the way,” Michael DiBeradinis, the city’s managing director, said.
“There’s not a better investment of public dollars than in this trail work,” he continued.
Phase 1 of the K&T Trail will extend from north from the Frankford Arsenal Boat Launch to Magee Avenue and incorporate the existing 800-foot trail through Lardner’s Point Park. A future phase will ultimately continue the trail south from the boat launch area to Port Richmond. Constructed in 2012, the existing section of trail won the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Green Park of the Year award in 2015.
“This project is a perfect example of Delaware River City Corporation’s mission,” Tom Branigan, DRCC executive director, said in a press release. “Our chairman and founder, former Congressman Bob Borski, envisioned our work as reconnecting people, businesses and neighborhoods in the areas surrounding the river by redeveloping underutilized riverfront property. This phase of the K&T Trail does just that, and there is more good work to come.”