The ‘Cooper Park Bridge’ project is one of three the agency approved via its Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program, which dedicates federal funds to community-based, ‘non-traditonal’ transportation.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 29, 2021
In the next few years, bicyclists and pedestrians traveling through Camden City will have access to a new, alternative means of crossing over the Cooper River en route to points beyond.
That’s thanks to the proposed “Cooper Park Bridge,” a $1-million truss bridge and bicycle path approved by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) through its Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program.
The project is to be constructed across the Cooper River in the Gateway neighborhood of Camden City.
It will connect two sides of the 33-mile, Camden-County-wide LINK Trail, in the area of Flanders Boulevard and the Speedway gas station on the other side of the river, along Admiral Wilson Boulevard.
“This new route will serve to divert bicyclists and pedestrians from traveling directly alongside the congested Admiral Wilson Boulevard and provide easy access to the River Birch Connector Trail,” DVRPC said in a statement announcing the award.
The Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program is a competitive grant program that leverages federal dollars for “community-based, ‘non-traditional,’ surface transportation projects designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation’s transportation system,” according to DVRPC.
The Cooper Park Bridge project was one of just three for which the agency awarded funding in the current grant period (July 31 to November 24, 2020), and the only such project planned for Camden County.
John Coscia, Jr., Manager of Project Implementation at DVRPC, said the project stood out to the selection committee for its value to the community it will serve as well as for promoting public health and safety.
“Our review committee saw it as an exciting project,” Coscia, Jr. said.
“It really checked a lot of the boxes that we like to see: regional community benefit, health and safety (promote walking and biking), deliverability (construction-ready), sponsor capacity, and an equity component.
“We were also looking at communities that could get additional technical assistance if they were determined by the census data to support low-income residents,” he said.
Coscia, Jr. said the project could be completed in two to three years, depending upon whether its sponsor, the Camden County government, plans to use design assistance from the state Department of Transportation.
“I know the county is eager and looking forward to this project,” he said.
Camden County Commissioner Jeffrey Nash described the Cooper Park Bridge as “a critical piece of infrastructure” in the context of the Camden County LINK Trail, which commissioners “expect to bring economic and public health benefits to towns throughout the county.
“Currently, the only way to get across Cooper River in this location is to walk or bike down a narrow sidewalk with cars and trucks traveling just a few feet away,” Nash said.
“The bridge will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to get off of this busy roadway and safely traverse in and out of Camden City.”
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