With protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and solar lighting, the Delaware River Trail is close — but won’t finish till spring

Some work is still ongoing, but people are already taking advantage of the waterfront path.

The Delaware River Trail

The Delaware River Trail

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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After lengthy construction, the middle part of the Delaware River Trail should be finished by spring 2022, officials said. The revamped path will give cyclists, runners, and pedestrians an easy, safe north-south route on the waterfront next to Center City.

Most of the path from Spring Garden Street to Washington Avenue is already paved. But detouring into the street is sometimes necessary as workers make final adjustments.

That stretch was supposed to be finished by this fall, but unexpected structural and underground utility issues popped up, said Delaware River Waterfront Corporation spokesperson Lizzie Woods. The DRWC, which has sparked riverfront revitalization with its Spruce Street Harbor Park, Race Street Pier, and Cherry Street Pier renovations, is overseeing the trail project.

The unanticipated structural issues required “significant redesigns” around Market Street and Tasker Street, Woods said. “We’re currently working through those with our engineers, contractor, and the regulatory partners as needed.”

When the Delaware River Trail is fully complete, it’ll be a game-changer, with 6 miles of protected bike lane running all the way from Allegheny to Oregon avenues. The raised, bi-directional strip is separated from the busy roadway by a swath of grass.

There’s a separate sidewalk, so people out for a stroll don’t have to worry about bikes zipping past. In some parts, the sidewalks widen to allow picnic tables and benches.

Solar panels above the benches will help power 120 lamp posts along the path.

Benches with solar panels help power lighting along the path

Benches with solar panels will help power lighting along the path

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Some sections of the trail have been finished for years, like the bike lane around Penn Treaty Park, and behind the South Philly shopping centers near Pier 70.

Some Philadelphians are already starting to use the next segment. Last week, cyclists and runners were seen mostly on the southern part of the trail around Washington Avenue. Woods said crews are adding bicycle and pedestrian counters between Spruce and Dock Streets to measure how many people are already using the trail.

However, there’s still construction around Walnut Street, and there’s an obstruction due to a mixed-used development going up between Tasker and Washington. At both these locations, cyclists must divert into the adjacent four-lane road, forced to use the tiny existing bike lane next to the gutter.

Since cold weather makes asphalt paving difficult, said DRWC spokesperson Wood, any lingering issues likely won’t get resolved before the spring.

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