Although there was no ceremonial shovel in the ground to kick off the second phase of the iconic Manayunk Bridge trail project Thursday, there was a handshake. The gesture symbolized the partnership between the city and the suburbs, divided by the Schuylkill River.
"This is the finest example of what civil service is and what it can do," Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said atop the bridge, which will eventually connect trails on the Philadelphia side with the that is having a groundbreaking at 1 p.m. Sunday. "This is a prime example of goverment at its finest."
The trail project, Nutter said, involves a diverse group of people and organizations including county, state and Lower Merion officials, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the , the William Penn Foundation, the Bicycle Coaltion of Greater Philadelphia and the state's department of transportation.
"Look at these views," Nutter said motioning toward the river. "This is truly going to be a spectacular view of the region, and I know we're going to be doing a ribbon cutting very, very soon."
When finished, the bridge trail will connect the Cynwyd Heritage Trail with Dupont and High Streets in Manayunk, which is within walking distance to the shops and restaurants along Main Street.
Future phases of the project hope to extend the trail to theand eventually connect the Schuylkill River Trail at Shawmont Avenue.
Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel called it a fantastic day and project that signified a partnership between the two historic towns on either side of the river.
"For years people thought of the Schuylkill as the divider between the city and the suburbs, but those days are over," he said. "We are a region now, one growing, dynamic region."
Although the city and Lower Merion officials deserved credit, Rina Cutler, deputy mayor of transportation and utilities, said SEPTA did too.
"They deserve a major shout out," she said. "Powerful partnership produce powerful results and SEPTA really worked hard to become a partner in this project."
Although the bridge, that hasn't been used as a rail line since the 1980s, is only stone now, State Sen. Daylin Leach said the first step had been made.
"Standing here we're able to see the future today," he said.