Cycling and trail organizations seek public help in putting pressure on local officials to fund the project that links the Schuylkill River's two sides.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Friends of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail launched a petition that urges Lower Merion Township and Montgomery County to fund the trail project over the Manayunk Bridge.
In total, the project costs $2.8 million and involves linking both the Cynwyd Heritage Trail with the Manayunk Canal Towpath—a part of the Schuylkill River Trail. The City of Philadelphia has pledged $1.3 million.
The petition is directed at the Lower Merion Township Commissioners and Montgomery County Commissioners, asking them to help fund the balance.
According to the petition, Lower Merion could apply for a $500,000 state grant, but it would have to match funds. If the state picks up the half-million, that leaves a balance of $1 million between the township and county.
The petition cites current and future trail benefits for the township.
"The existing Cynwyd Trail has already proven extremely popular with current Township residents. As many as 150 people have been counted in a single hour using the Trail! Further, looking ahead, the resulting link across the River will greatly increase the business and residential appeal of Lower Merion in the competition for commercial and residential investment (read: healthy tax base)," it said.
As of 10:15 a.m. March 15, 8,469 signatures existed on the online form.
In February, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter officially reopened the towpath, after several months of rehabilitation. The trail was updated from Manayunk through the Shawmont neighborhood. Currently, workers are restoring the river trail to the Montgomery County border.
Through the Philadelphia Water Department, the city's Park and Recreation Department, and Destination Schuylkill River, Philadelphia has launched a major river overhaul, with canal, trail, water tanks and flooding concerns updated.
Lower Merion Township will hold a trail meeting March 21 to discuss funding. It starts at 7:55 p.m. at Township Administration Building, 2nd Floor Board Room at 75 East Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore.