PHILADELPHIA >> In a critical step forward for the continued development of the region’s growing Circuit Trails multi-use trail network, the Circuit Trails Coalition released its report, “Moving the Circuit Trails Forward to Reach 500 Miles by 2025.”
The report includes 12 policy recommendations to advance the progression of 171 miles of trail that are currently funded or planned, in order to reach an ambitious interim goal of developing 500 miles of trail by 2025.
These policy recommendations are designed to accelerate trail development in a meaningful way in order to stay on track to complete the eventual 800-plus mile trail network by 2040, which is the timeline defined by the region’s long-range transportation infrastructure plan. Currently, more than 330 miles of trails in the network’s nine-county region in Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey are complete.
“Our goal to complete the Circuit Trails network by 2040 is not a pipe dream. We know it can be accomplished, and this plan maps out the steps that our regional partners, including public agencies and municipalities, must act on for us to collectively reach the finish line on schedule,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition. “For more than a year, our coalition members dug in to identify the trail opportunities that are most ripe and realistic for completion. Now, we need the support and action of key public agencies and public officials to make it a reality,” she said.
The report’s policy recommendations are tailored to the various key entities that impact the Circuit Trails: the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), key state agencies, counties and the Circuit Trails Coalition. The recommendations are aimed at eliminating identified obstacles at state, county, and regional levels to advance the construction of more miles of Circuit Trails. The recommendations are as follows:
For the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC)
● Create a right-of-way acquisition team to enable trail projects to move expeditiously past feasibility into engineering, design and construction.
● Support creation of multi-municipal authorities to accelerate trail development.
● Enhance dedicated capacity for trail planning and development by procuring consultant services on behalf of municipalities or counties.
● Adopt best practices to advance Circuit Trails development, including full-time employees to manage trail planning and development projects and county leadership support of significant trail corridors.
For the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)
● Enhance coordination of Circuit trail projects with state road projects with a full-time, district-level Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator.
For the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)
● Create new positions to accelerate New Jersey trail projects.
● Incorporate trail projects into the Complete Streets checklist and better coordinate trail development with the highway planning process.
● Use existing federal funding sources for design of trails and increase the maximum size of Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside program funding for trail construction awards.
For the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
● Enhance staffing and capacity for NJDEP’s Recreational Trails Program.
● Create a larger “Trail Planning, Design and Construction Fund” for NJ Circuit Trails Projects.
For the Circuit Trails Coalition
● Convene stakeholder working groups or task forces around specific trail segments.
● Prioritize particular trails and identify critical gaps.
“Trails on the Circuit connect our urban, suburban, and rural communities across nine counties and two states; offer a place for active recreation and transportation; bring us closer to our waterways; and link our region’s destinations together. With the support of our region’s key players, and the many trail enthusiasts who advocate for and use the Circuit Trails, a completed network of more than 800 miles of trails is not just a vision, but a reality we can collectively achieve,” said Clark Stuart.
The Circuit Trails Coalition is comprised of more than 60 non-profit organizations that work in collaboration with 25 state and local agencies and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to promote Circuit Trails development, marketing it to the general public and highlighting the Circuit Trails multiple benefits. For more information about the Circuit Trails, visit www.circuittrails.org.
About the Circuit Trails:
Greater Philadelphia is the proud home of the Circuit Trails, a regional trail network of hundreds of miles of multi-use trails that is growing in size each year. One of America’s largest trail networks, the Circuit currently includes more than 330 miles of completed multi-use trails with a vision of including more than 800-plus miles of interconnected trails across a nine-county region in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by 2040. Nearly 65 nonprofit organizations, foundations and agencies are working together as part of the Circuit Trails Coalition to advance the completion of the trail network. A premiere regional amenity, the Circuit Trails connect our people to our local communities, providing endless opportunities for recreation and commuting. So whether you bike it, walk it, run it or paddle alongside it, the point is—just enjoy it. Learn more at www.circuittrails.org, and connect with the Circuit Trails on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out what is happening #onthecircuit.
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