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Bikeway expansion project begins

Joggers, bicyclists will have more room along Kelly Drive.

Ground was broken on a $1.3 million renovation project for the Fairmount Bikeway between the Falls Bridge and Ridge Avenue along the Schuylkill River yesterday. City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis called it an “important link” connecting Love Park with the lower Wissahickon and Manayunk recreation trails.

The project, funded by public and private monies and designed for cyclists, joggers and walkers, will widen the existing recreation path and repave an existing parking lot. Mayor Michael Nutter and City Councilman Curtis Jones lauded the green effect and promoting healthy lifestyles.

The path starts across Kelly Drive from the Rivage site, a source of never-ending development concern, an alternative high school and abandoned restaurant. Jim Williamson, who owns Slices Pizza along Ridge Avenue in East Falls, said that development is key for translating trail visitors into neighborhood-business dollars.

“If the Rivage is developed, this can help,” he said. “The same thing that happens at the end of Boathouse Row, families going down to visit and grab something to eat, spend some time, can happen here.”

Gina Snyder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corp., said last year’s opening of the Trolley Car Diner a few blocks away where Kelly meets Ferry Road, has started that process. With commuters passing through from the suburbs and a weekly trail count of roughly 15,000 people, she sees the Bikeway as an “economic driver.”

Work is expected to start in about a week and end in June.

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