By Linda Mead, D & R Greenway Trust
Beginning this fall, bicyclists can enjoy the new 1.5-mile Trenton Wellness Loop. With design led by the City of Trenton and the Partnership for Healthy Kids, and implementation led by D&R Greenway’s Jay Watson, this new trail includes on-street bike lane striping, signage and wayfinding through Trenton’s downtown. It is at mile marker zero along the 70-mile D&R Canal State Park “Towpath” that follows the canal from New Brunswick to Trenton, and then up river to Frenchtown.
Truly a dream come true, for nearly two decades, the State, Mercer County and the City of Trenton were looking for ways to complete trail connections along the D&R Canal and the Delaware River. Watson’s leadership brought the partners together. “Building on our preservation work and close partnership with the City and Mercer County, we were able to bring D&R Greenway’s strategic know-how and efficiencies to the table to get this project done,” saysWatson. D&R Greenway was successful in securing funding from the William Penn Foundation through the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC).
A major feature of the Trenton Wellness Loop is Trenton’s Battlefield Monument. Standing tall above Broad Street (Route 206) and Pennington Road (Route 31), this Revolutionary sentinel marks the site of the American victory at the first Battle of Trenton that took place on December 26, 1776. Located in an area known as “Five Points”, it was here that the American artillery were placed, preventing the Hessians from organizing a counter attack.
The Loop will connect to a larger trail segment, currently under design, that will reconnect the D&R Canal towpath through Trenton’s streets to a section of the D&R Canal in Hamilton Township that was “orphaned” from the larger canal system when the canal was filled by the WPA in the 1930s. That stretch of former canal is now State Highway Rt. 129 and trackage for the RiverLine train.
“The D&R Canal State Park is one of our State’s most visited parks. Reconnecting this segment that runs through the Abbott Marshlands to the main trail system creates linkages to the Delaware River Heritage Trail and the Circuit Trail that is currently in creation,” says Olivia Glenn, Director of Parks and Forestry for the NJDEP.
The Circuit Trail is a system of connected public trails in the Greater Philadelphia and South/Central New Jersey Region. When complete, it will include 800 miles of multi-use paths for cyclists, walkers, runners, commuters and families for recreation and active transportation. Plans are underway to connect the Tulpehaking Nature Center, Abbott Marshlands and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail to the Circuit network.
It is one of the largest trail networks in the nation. Trenton, near the northernmost end, is an important hub.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora looks forward to this improvement to the Capital City.
“I am very excited about these projects in our city, making bicycling safer for our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Many of Trenton’s residents move around our city by bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. Creating bike lanes to integrate them into the proper traffic patterns will serve to protect them and inform motorists to share the roadways.” New bicycle lanes will be identified along Warren Street, North Broad Street and Assunpink Boulevard.
The Wellness Loop was originally proposed by the Partnership for Healthy Kids. “New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Trenton partnered with Trenton officials,” says Marissa Davis, Senior State Program Manager, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, “with a goal to help residents of the city gain active lifestyles and increase physical activity, as well as access to natural environments.”
Barry Seymour, Executive Director of the DVRPC, concurs: “Our commitment to projects like these is part of DVRPC’s vision for the Greater Philadelphia region: a safe and modern transportation system that protects and preserves natural resources while creating healthy communities,” he says.
“The Wellness Loop is yet another way D&R Greenway is working to enhance the health of the Capital City,” says Watson. D&R Greenway’s Capital City Farm provides fresh produce to residents, as well as jobs and education; D&R Greenway has been working to restore the Natural Area Meadow in Trenton’s historic Cadwalader Park; and D&R Greenway has been working with the Trenton Bike Exchange to provide bicycles to Capital City residents.Watson concludes, “In addition to making the streets safer for Trenton’s many bicycling commuters, the Wellness Loop is a great way for families to spend time together outdoors, get a cardiovascular workout, see our preserves and reap the health benefits of nature.”
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