An artist's rendering of a proposed elevated crosswalk on the Camden County LINK trail for bicyclists and pedestrians. (Rendering courtesy of NV5 Engineering and Camden County)
Officials in New Jersey's Camden County have announced that plans are being made for a trail bridge over the Cooper River catering specifically to bicyclists and pedestrians — the first of two new spans to cross the river and help connect the county's local and regional trail system.
Jack Sworaski, director of the county's Division of Environmental Affairs, told the Cherry Hill Courier-Post that the municipality recently was awarded a $1 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) to build a bridge over the Cooper, a tributary of the nearby Delaware River that parallels the heavily traveled U.S. Highway 30/Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden.
The Cooper River winds its way through Cooper River Park in Haddonfield, Cherry Hill and Pennsauken before reaching Gateway Park in Camden along Admiral Wilson Boulevard, a main entry road into Camden and to the Ben Franklin Bridge and PATCO Speedline over the Delaware River into Philadelphia.
The new 12-ft.-wide span will cross the Cooper River near the Speedway Gas station on Admiral Wilson Boulevard to Flanders Boulevard on the opposite side of the river close to the Campbell Soup Co. headquarters and the Subaru office complex.
In addition, the first structure will be 236 ft. in length, have a clearance from the river at high tide of 10 ft., and parallel the Admiral Wilson Boulevard span that already crosses over the river.
The Courier-Post noted that it is one link in a portion of the Camden County LINK Trail, which also has other unfinished segments. When completed, the trail will travel through 17 county municipalities between the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden and the Pinelands National Reserve in Winslow Township.
"The bridge will be built to make access to the trail system easier and safer and help to complete the LINK trail loop through the city," explained Matthew Ludwig, senior engineer with NV5, a Philadelphia consulting engineering firm hired by the county to design the bridge.
County officials are optimistic the bridge will have a positive economic impact, generating $19.5 million in projected new tourism spending and serve as a benefit to local businesses and services.
Ludwig told the Cherry Hill news source that Camden County estimates construction on the pedestrian bridge will begin by the spring of 2023 and will require some nighttime lane closures on U.S. 30/Admiral Wilson Boulevard.
Another Pedestrian Structure Still Being Planned
Discussions are ongoing about a second bridge that Camden County officials hope will come into better focus soon. It will be designed as an elevated crosswalk over U.S. 130 and will connect the county's golf driving range and Cooper River Park at North Park Drive in Pennsauken. By elevating the pathway for hikers and bikers, the need for them to cross the heavily traveled highway at crosswalks will be eliminated.
A hearing on the bridge, a larger undertaking that has already been awarded a $3.2 million state grant, will be held in 2023, although no date has been set. The elevated crosswalk also needs approval from the historic preservation office within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, according to Sworaski.
When each are built, the two proposed pedestrian bridges will join Camden County's popular Cuthbert Boulevard bridge farther upriver in Cooper River Park connecting Cherry Hill with Collingswood. That structure already has walkways that are used by bicyclists and pedestrians.
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