LOWER GWYNEDD – Walkers, joggers and horseback riders using the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association’s Green Ribbon Trail will not be able to access a portion of it during the ongoing construction project on Route 202 in Montgomery County.
The construction between Swedesford and Morris roads began on Jan. 27, according to representatives from the association. The project has several initiatives including replacing a bridge over the Wissahickon Creek and expanding the road to four lanes. This section of the Green Ribbon Trail will be closed until 2024.
The Green Ribbon Trail stretches from Upper Gwynedd to Stenton Avenue near Erdenheim, according to Madalyn Neff, WVWA communications specialist. A portion of the pathway is also within Fort Washington State Park. The Watershed Association maintains roughly 10.5 miles of the Green Ribbon Trail, according to John Ferro, WVWA’s director of conservation.
Executive Director Gail Farmer said the end result of this construction project on Route 202 could actually improve safety and overall accessibility for trail users.
“Instead of having to cross [Rt.] 202, now they’ll be able to access the other side of the Green Ribbon Trail by walking under the bridge,” Farmer said.
Farmer said this project “was in the works” for several decades. She added WVWA worked with the state’s transportation department consulting on some of the potential environmental concerns associated with the level of construction.
For Farmer, “wetland mitigation” was at the top of the list.
Farmer said that PennDOT’s efforts impacted about one-third of an acre, but offset some concerns by helping larger other areas that may be in need.
She used a 7.4-acre parcel of land along Prophecy Creek near the intersection of Butler Pike and Morris Road, which was “under imminent threat of development,” as an example.
The state’s transportation department later acquired the land at the association’s suggestion and were able to conduct wetland restoration.
“They’ve taken our concerns seriously, and they really made a significant effort to balance to take action to improve the environmental impacts of course that are in balance with safety concerns,” Farmer said.
In addition to the Green Ribbon Trail, the agency has 13 miles of other paths on 12 preserves across the area, according to Ferro.
Farmer added that WVWA is working to improve the experience for outdoor enthusiasts.
“[We’re] looking at our existing trails, the Green Ribbon Trail and figuring out what are its strengths, what are its challenges, where are the existing gateways, and where are the opportunities,” she said.
The goal is for people to easily “get to a trail from close to where they live, and that access will connect them to a network of trails.”
Ferro said the organization informed people of the closure with outdoor signage and posts on the watershed’s various social media accounts. For more information, visit wvwa.org.