Critical Circuit Trails Project Receives $19 Million to Create New Opportunities To Walk, Bike and Be Active Outside in Camden County
Authored By: Circuit Trails Coalition
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $19 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant to Camden County Parks Department to reconnect neighborhoods separated by highway and road infrastructure with safe routes, ensuring residents have equitable access to local and regional green spaces. This critical funding will construct the most complex segment of the 34-mile Camden County LINK, a spine trail that will connect residents and visitors in the county with significant bike/ped infrastructure to the Ben Franklin Bridge, Cooper River Park and the developing 800-mile Circuit Trails network with access to nine counties.
Camden County Commissioner, Jeffrey Nash, praised the grant allocation as a game-changing investment for the region. “This is a transformative project that will enhance and improve the lives of our residents and visitors, making Camden County a destination for outdoor recreation,” said Commissioner Jeff Nash, liaison to the Camden County Parks Department. “We see the importance in investing in accessible, top quality outdoor spaces and we are thrilled that the Department of Transportation feels the same way. Paired with our ongoing $100 million parks revitalization initiative, Camden County is on track to becoming a top outdoor activities destination on the East Coast.”
Funding to construct approximately 3.8 miles of the LINK—now creating 6.2 total miles of contiguous trail from the Ben Franklin Bridge to cross Route 130—is critical momentum toward achieving the Circuit Trails Coalition’s goal of 500 miles by 2025. A new report released by the Circuit Trails Coalition calls on local decision-makers to prioritize the region’s trail network, which addresses major concerns—economic development, connectivity and bike and pedestrian safety—facing New Jersey communities like Camden. Report recommendations encourage New Jersey to prioritize channeling existing money available at state and federal levels toward the Circuit Trails.
“This investment is big news for our region because it demonstrates that large pots of federal funding designated to trails and active transportation are readily available to help provide equitable access to trails, walking and biking across Southern Jersey and help us achieve our short-term goal of completing 500 miles of Circuit Trails by 2025,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition. “It’s the second largest federal investment for the network and this essential infrastructure will create more access to important destinations in the community and region and will allow residents to enjoy its health and wellness benefits. We’re calling on New Jersey to continue prioritizing trail and active transportation funding to match residents’ demand for walking, biking and trails throughout the region.”
More than 375 miles of the Circuit Trails network are complete across nine counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with funding secured for an additional 32 miles. Funding for approximately 90 miles needs to be secured in the next two years to reach the network’s short-term goal of 500 miles by 2025. When the entire network is complete, more than 50 percent of the region’s population—more than 3.1 million people—will live within 1 mile of the Circuit Trails network.
The LINK project will construct a critical safe route to walking, biking and trails for residents in the area that links them to more than 346 acres of green space with a dog park, golf academy, playground, softball field, fishing, picnic areas, sculpture garden and bocce court.
“This massive award is a testament to the commitment of the county, its board of commissioners and the many advocates who have fought for years to reconnect Camden’s neighborhoods currently separated by highways,” said Justin Dennis, New Jersey Vice Chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition. “Thanks to these efforts and this critical funding, Camden residents will soon be able to access safe routes and bridges to be active and enjoy their local and regional parks, trails and business districts. This is a great example of how more New Jersey counties can tap into available federal dollars to connect their communities to active transportation networks and the Circuit Trails.”
The construction will include a new shared-use path, three pedestrian bridges, retrofitting one existing roadway bridge, crosswalk enhancements and onstreet protected bicycle lanes. The new multi-use trail segments will contribute to the completion of the paved Camden County LINK Trail that will connect Camden, Pennsauken and Cherry Hill. The LINK RAISE grant application received support from the City of Camden and more than 50 community, non-profit and institutional organizations with NV5 as the technical lead.