Spring Garden Street, while masquerading with a verdant name, is hardly the lush, landscaped thoroughfare that the title projects. From river to river, the street cuts through numerous neighborhoods, sometimes tree-lined, oftentimes barren of any flora at all. Nearly a decade ago, the seeds of the Spring Garden Street Greenway were sown, with plans to revamp the corridor while providing a key connection for bikers traversing the city. This vision would include landscaping, stormwater management, transit and pedestrian infrastructure improvements, in addition to a bike path down the median of Spring Garden.

An updated conceptual rendering shows a raised, separated bike lane on the curb side

As you can likely imagine, just a few things have changed over the last nine years. After more public outreach, in the spring of 2021, adjustments to the previous plans were made – most notably, the moving of the bike lane from the median to the curbside. A fantastic summary of the project was released after these results, when the East Coast Greenway Coalition put together an awesome interactive document that lays out everything that will be impacted. The city has been continuing to gather feedback since then, but there had been nary a public word on progress until several days ago, when we saw a notice for a “Spring Garden Street Connector Community Press Conference,” which most certainly caught our eye.

A conceptual rendering from the original proposal back in 2013

Though the headline may have given it away, the news was big, to the tune of $31 million big. Several groups have been involved in the planning and organizing for this project, but perhaps the most crucial component has now been added to the mix: money, and lots of it. Per a press release from the State of Pennsylvania, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) will contribute a million, the William Penn Foundation $2.1 million, with $1.4 million coming from the City of Philadelphia and another $500k coming from PennDOT. This adds up to $5 million, not a small sum but most certainly not the $31 million investment we mentioned previously. While attending the aforementioned press conference the other day at the scorching hot corner of Ridge & Spring Garden, it was announced that federal money would also be part of the funding mix, presumably making up the $26 million difference. Let’s check out the fanfare, shall we?

The proposed Greenway, in green
Several dozens of folks came out to hear the news, in spite of the near-record temps
A closer look at the festivities, with 1200 Ridge Ave. lurking in the background
Multiple speakers presented the story of the Greenway and what it took to get here

So…what’s next? Designs will need to be finalized, proper permits will need to be pulled, in addition to coordination across multiple federal, state, and local entities to get things off the ground. This would be a huge addition to both the local Circuit Trails network of 800 miles of protected trails as well as the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile project to connect trails from Maine to the Florida Keys. This would also dovetail wonderfully with the proposed plans for N. 2nd St. in Northern Liberties, which would further pedestrianize the neighborhood.

State, city, and local luminaries all smiles about the news
Another conceptual rendering shows the intersection at dusk

But before you put on your bike helmet as you eagerly await the ride from the Schuylkill River Trail to the Delaware River Trail, hold tight. The press release also stated that with proper coordination, construction could be complete in five years – womp womp. We wish it were a shorter timeline, but we are even more excited to see how the Greenway will complement the crazy amount of development already in progress along this stretch. And figure, by the time the Greenway is done, there will be even more projects filling in additional gaps along the way.