Bartram’s Mile Extends SRT — And Helps the Schuylkill River, Too

It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water
It’s official: Philadelphia students joined Parks and Recreation, Philadelphia Water and other partners in a Bartram’s Mile ground breaking ceremony on Nov. 23. Credit: Philadelphia Water

Bartram’s Mile—the first stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail to reach the river’s west bank within the city—is an exciting public-private partnership that will add a beautiful new mile-long greenway to the Schuylkill River.

Partners on the project, which broke ground on November 23, include Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the William Penn Foundation and Bartram’s Garden.

You can read a good Philadelphia Magazine article on the new trail segment by clicking here but, in essence, Bartram’s Mile will follow the Schuylkill River from Grey’s Ferry Avenue to 56th Street and include a new pedestrian bridge connecting South and West Philly.

This exciting improvement is designed to bring many more residents and visitors to our waterfront, which is becoming more and more popular as our rivers become cleaner and more attractive. It will also provide easy access—a new gateway for pedestrians, cyclists and more—to some local gems like Bartram’s Garden, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, and John Heinz Wildlife Refuge.

Construction of the proposed “Schuylkill River Swing Bridge”—what the east-west connector is being called—could start as early as this summer and be complete by the end of 2017, according to Plan Philly.

And (as if creating a new green amenity for the city and providing a brand new way to access the waterfront isn’t cool enough!) this project will also fight stormwater pollution with an innovative green infrastructure “greenway” on three nearby streets.

Philadelphia Water contributed $500,000 to enhance the streetscapes of Botanic Avenue, 49th Street and 51st Street with green infrastructure and sewer modifications that beautify the area while managing over 73,500 gallons of water per rainstorm. This network of green tools and infrastructure improvements is especially beneficial for the area because it will help to reduce the amount of pollution entering the Schuylkill from a sewer outfall (essentially, a pipe the empties into the river) just south of Botanic Avenue.

Rather than sending rain water that has picked up pollutants right into our river, that stormwater will now flow through soil and plants which will filter, absorb and breakdown pollutants before going back into the earth. The treated rain water will then be able to replenish groundwater supplies and gradually seep into the Schuylkill. During heavy downpours, the green tools help slow down and treat the rain water before it flows into a sewer connected to our treatment plant.

Bartram’s Mile is an inspiring example of what we can do when working together—we will now have more recreational access, local businesses can benefit from increased foot traffic and visitors, and our cherished Schuylkill River will have cleaner water.

These are the kind of projects that are making Philadelphia a great place to live, and we’re proud to be a part of that!