The Manayunk bridge has officially reopened as of October 30th, 2015. Built in 1918 and operated by SEPTA as a rail bridge until 1986, the structure has been reopened as a pedestrian bridge. It connects the Philadelphia County neighborhood of Manayunk with the Bala Cynwyd area of Lower Merion township. I was there for the grand reopening and soon understood the implications of the project. A purely pedestrian bridge encourages residents from either side to explore the other. A revitalization of this type may also have an effect on property values in both neighborhoods. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gave a commencement speech in which he noted,
“There’s a positive impact on property values and local business adjacent to trails. Lower Merion, Montgomery and Philly finance directors all appreciate rising property values and all that goes with that. After more than a decade the formerly unused bridge will now be a key connection point for a network of circuit trails linking Lower Merion and Philadelphia for the first time in 30 years.”
The Mayor also commented that working with Lower Merion Township on the project was “never political” and always focused on the greater good. On the Bala Cynwyd side, the bridge accesses the Cynwyd Heritage trail–another revitalization project that both counties worked towards. Through this example of cooperation, it’s clear that as Philadelphia improves itself it won’t leave its neighbors behind.
Photos/Text by Michael Hirsch