Hop on a bike by the Schuylkill River in Conshohocken, and ride all the way to the Fort Washington State Park? Then maybe up the Wissahickon Creek past Ambler or down to Philadelphia?
Those are the options that those in local government hope to give their residents by extending the "Cross County Trail," which currently dead ends in Plymouth Meeting, up to the Fort Washington State Park. An idea that has lain relatively dormant for eight years, Plymouth Township Council is now trying to set the wheels in motion.
Council will vote on a resolution at its legislative meeting next week to conditionally offer $10,000 in capital funds, matched by Whitemarsh Township and a PECO grant, to conduct a study on how to best connect the trail. The main issue at hand, says councilman Dean Eisenberger, is how to cross Germantown Pike.
"Right now, the trail comes up Alan Wood Road, along IKEA, under Ridge Pike, and through the Metroplex where it dead ends," Eisenberger told Patch. "[Engineers] would have to decide whether to go above or below Germantown Pike, or build a crosswalk, which is a concern from a safety perspective."
At its current length, the trail stretches only 3.5 miles and connects with the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken. According to the Montgomery County website, the ultimate goal is to run 17.5 miles to a future Pennypack Trail in Willow Grove, while also connecting to the Wissahickon's Green Ribbon Trail and Philadelphia's Fairmount Park along the way.
Should Council approve the release of $10,000 on Monday, the amount would likely be matched by Whitemarsh Township, Eisenberger said. The municipalities would then apply for an additional $10,000 grant from the PECO Green Region Program, to pay for a feasibility study. While a study completed in 2007 determined the best path for the trail and coordinated with property owners who would have to give permission for the trail to cross their land, Eisenberger said that the recent changes to Flourtown Road require new consideration.
After the plans have been made, the municipalities, along with Montgomery County, can start applying for larger grants to pay for actual trail construction. Despite the seemingly long road, Eisenberger said that he is optimistic after attending recent meetings that placed many of the important players at the same table.
"I think it's imperative that we get it done," said Eisenberger. "We've probably accomplished more in the last six months than we have in the past six years."