The PA Chapter of the American Planning Association recently recognized four Pennsylvania trails and greenways with its 2016 Great Places In PA Award.
The awards went to--
-- D&L Trail in Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Luzerne and Northampton Counties: The D & L Trail (photo) is located along the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers and follows the 165-mile historic pathway that anthracite coal took.
It has resulted from a public-private partnership, with the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor working with landowners and stakeholders to conserve cultural and natural resources in the five-county region.
The Trail offers opportunities for walking, running, hiking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.
With 44 trailheads, the trail is accessible to thru travelers, as well as daily recreational users and commuters. Respondents to a 2012 user survey included people from three countries and 17 states, with the majority being from 27 different counties in Pennsylvania.
Trail users experience diverse geography and cultural landscapes, as well as an incredible variety of scenery, communities, landscapes and nationally significant heritage attractions.
Communities along the D & L Trail embrace it as a meeting place for festivals, races and other events that bring people together.
Additionally, the Trail serves as the long distance spine for other regional trails such as The Circuit, East Coast Greenway, 9-11 Memorial Trail, and Ironton Rail Trail.
-- Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Allegheny, Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties: The Great Allegheny Passage is a 150-mile non-motorized trail that extends from the forks of the Ohio River at Pittsburgh to Cumberland County, MD, where it joins with the C & O Canal Towpath, and links to Washington, D.C., for a combined total of 334.5 miles.
There is also a 52-mile spur connecting downtown Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh International Airport.
The GAP provides opportunities for hikers, bicyclists, cross country skiers and people with disabilities to discover the region’s beauty in river gorges, mountain vistas and sweeping cityscapes and experience waterways, wildlife, plants and rock formations.
Rehabilitated massive railroad bridges and tunnels let trail users pass through the Allegheny Mountains, not over them.
There are numerous trailheads that offer parking, water and toilets, as well as four Visitor Centers that provide amenities and information.
Additionally, more than 30 interpretive signs have been installed to date. Over 750,000 people, from all over the globe, visit the GAP annually with estimated spending of over $12 million/year in the trailside communities.
The Allegheny Trail Alliance, working in partnership with the two states, five counties, multiple municipalities, and other stakeholders, was responsible for bringing the GAP to fruition and continue to be engaged in its stewardship.
-- Schuylkill Banks Trail & Greenway Philadelphia County: Schuylkill Banks is an easily accessible 1.4-mile trail/greenway along the Schuylkill River in the heart of Philadelphia.
The Trail/Greenway is also part of the larger Schuylkill River Trail, planned to be more than 130 miles when completed, as well as The Circuit Regional Trail and the East Coast Greenway.
It connects users to the riverfront, local parks and cultural institutions. Schuylkill Banks has transformed a formerly industrial no-man’s land into a beloved amenity that attracts an average of 28,000 user trips/week.
It is a vital commuter corridor, recreational amenity, and green oasis in a dense urban environment.
Among the many amenities are large shade trees, native vegetation, benches, water fountain, composting restroom, lighting, public art, a public dock, interpretive signage, seasonal programming, and a visitor center.
Schuylkill Banks provides opportunities for trail users to relax or engage in activities, such as fishing, picnicking, creative arts, and unstructured play.
The Schuylkill River Development Corporation performs daily maintenance and is working with the City to extend the Trail/Greenway an additional 6.6 miles to connect with the west riverbank.
The Trail/Greenway serves as a backyard for many and plays a major role in intercepting stormwater runoff before it reaches the river.
-- Walkable Warren in Warren County: The Walkable Warren corridor connects an existing bike trail that enters the City of Warren from the north and a major park on the west side of town. Parking is available at both entry points.
The corridor was the brainchild of a unique partnership involving the City, Warren County, the County Transit Authority, Experience, Inc., the Warren/Forest Area Agency on Aging and the Allegheny Community Center.
Utilizing signage, the partnership encourages drivers to park their vehicles on the outskirts of town, then, together with their passengers, walk or bike into town.
The signage directs pedestrian and bicycle traffic through the back streets of the community past older and amazing architecture, City parks, the retail sector, the community center, and the beautiful scenery offered by the Conewango Creek and the Allegheny River.
Walkable Warren promotes healthy lifestyles among residents and visitors by providing a fun, friendly way to exercise without even knowing it.
The project has increased the number of visitors to the City, improved the health of residents, and contributed to a sense of place and community pride.
One noteworthy aspect of the corridor is that the cost was minimal. Walkable Warren took advantage of existing infrastructure and its multiple use characteristics to create a safe and pedestrian friendly walking/biking corridor for residents and visitors of all ages.For more information on this and other awards, visit the PA Chapter of the American Planning Association’s 2016 Great Places webpage.