Context - Fall 2016 - 31



The Manayunk Bridge, built in 1918, has long been a prominent landmark
in one of Philadelphia's most iconic neighborhoods. Until the 1970s it
carried the Pennsylvania Railroad in a sweeping S-curve 80 feet above
the Schuylkill River, streets, and other active railroads. In 1983, the
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) assumed
control of Philadelphia's commuter railroads and for three years the
bridge remained operational. In 1986, however, bridge service was
extinguished and within a few years the bridge had fallen into disrepair. In
the early 1990's SEPTA performed a major rehabilitation by removing the
rails and fouled ballast, and installing a new waterproofing and drainage
system to prevent further decay. The bridge, however, sat unused.
A coalition of government agencies and community groups envisioned the bridge as a trail and advocated for its conversion. Funding
was obtained from a variety of public and private sources to design
and build the project on a fast-track schedule. Whitman, Requardt
& Associates, LLP (WRA) led the design team and steering committee through a vigorous planning and final design process. Because
the project was community-driven and there were numerous stakeholders and affected entities, WRA determined the bridge's most
advantageous redevelopment through intense public outreach and
careful stakeholder coordination. The project's ultimate goal was to
establish a safe, non-motorized connection between Lower Merion
and Philadelphia. Enhancing multimodal transportation between the
two communities affords Lower Merion Township residents access
to Philadelphia shopping, restaurants, and entertainment venues,
while in turn providing much-needed open space for Manayunk
residents. This dichotomy-a dense, vibrant urban neighborhood on
the Manayunk side and forested hills on the Lower Merion side-is
one of the project's most interesting and endearing characteristics.
Initial funding, while substantial, was insufficient to implement a
grand vision for the trail. The funding agencies adjusted their approach
to emphasize the durability and timelessness of the facility. The reinforced concrete pavement and decorative galvanized steel fencing are
designed for safety, durability, and to complement the area's industrial
heritage. Because the bridge contributes to the Manayunk Historic
District, the project was designed to both preserve its original fabric
and respect its historic character. These elements formed an armature
onto which additional amenities can be built as funds become available. The City of Philadelphia was recently awarded funds to install
trail lighting which will allow the trail to remain open for extended
commuter hours. A master plan is in place to extend the route along
the inactive rail corridor to the Ivy Ridge Station, further promoting
the bridge as a significant link in the regional trail network.
The Manayunk Bridge Trail has been called the "crown jewel" of
the Delaware Valley trail network. The Trail not only preserves an
iconic, historical structure, but also redevelops it to suit a modern era
of active recreation and multimodal transportation. ■

PROJECT: Manayunk Bridge Trail
LOCATION: Manayunk, Philadelphia, and Lower Merion Township
CLIENT: Manayunk Development Corporation
PROJECT SIZE: ½ mile of elevated trail
Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP
(Lead Engineer, Architect, and Landscape Architect)
A.D. Marble & Company (Environmental clearance and permitting)
Interface Studio LLC (Urban planning and public involvement)
Ritter and Plante Associates, LLC
(Field survey and inventory of existing conditions)
Alta Planning + Design (Concept planning)

AIA Philadelphia | context | FALL 2016 31


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Fall 2016

Editors’ Letter
Up Close
Design Profiles
Index to Advertisers
Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly1
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly2
Context - Fall 2016 - cover1
Context - Fall 2016 - cover2
Context - Fall 2016 - 3
Context - Fall 2016 - 4
Context - Fall 2016 - Editors’ Letter
Context - Fall 2016 - Community
Context - Fall 2016 - 7
Context - Fall 2016 - 8
Context - Fall 2016 - 9
Context - Fall 2016 - Up Close
Context - Fall 2016 - 11
Context - Fall 2016 - Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Context - Fall 2016 - 13
Context - Fall 2016 - 14
Context - Fall 2016 - 15
Context - Fall 2016 - Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Context - Fall 2016 - 17
Context - Fall 2016 - 18
Context - Fall 2016 - 19
Context - Fall 2016 - Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - 21
Context - Fall 2016 - 22
Context - Fall 2016 - 23
Context - Fall 2016 - 24
Context - Fall 2016 - 25
Context - Fall 2016 - 26
Context - Fall 2016 - 27
Context - Fall 2016 - Expression
Context - Fall 2016 - 29
Context - Fall 2016 - Design Profiles
Context - Fall 2016 - 31
Context - Fall 2016 - 32
Context - Fall 2016 - 33
Context - Fall 2016 - 34
Context - Fall 2016 - 35
Context - Fall 2016 - 36
Context - Fall 2016 - Marketplace
Context - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Context - Fall 2016 - cover3
Context - Fall 2016 - cover4