The Camden County Parks Department recently got a $19-million federal grant to further develop the county’s LINK Trail, which will be part of one of America’s largest trail networks.
Once completed, the trail will be linked to the Circuit Trails and will connect nine counties in Pennsylvania and South Jersey with more than 850 miles of interconnected multi-use trails.
“This is a transformative project that will enhance the lives of our residents and visitors even further,” said Commissioner Jeff Nash, liaison to the parks department. “We see the importance of investing in accessible, top-quality outdoor spaces, and we are thrilled that the Department of Transportation feels the same way.”
The $19 million grant will be used to construct three critical segments of the LINK in Camden and Pennsauken consisting of about 3.8 miles of new paved, shared-use paths and multiple complex bridge structures. The total allocation of grant funds for the long-term project has grown to $31 million since 2018.
“This is separate from the $100-million Parks Alive 2025 Revitalization Project that was announced last year,” Nash explained. “ But this (highlights) Camden County’s commitment to making a sustainable infrastructure that is not car dependent.
“This is part of my passion for open space, open parks,” he added. “For the greater community, this has so many positive factors.”
Nash said the I-95 highway collapse in Philadelphia last month was a reminder of how important walkable, bikeable area roadways are.
“(Until) we create more accessible roadways, accidents like that will (always) be large issues,” he noted.”Today, what we have in the Delaware Valley, we do have some of the worst air quality in the country… We have to do things to unwind that.
“In Camden County, we are encouraging the use of electric vehicles, we are building trails, parks and getting people out of their cars to enjoy the outdoors. ”
In addition to enhanced opportunities for physical activity, the trail will cut down on the number of cars on the road, creating a safer environment for cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers as well as improving air quality with less pollution.
Once completed, the LINK Trail will go through nearly 20 Camden County communities, from the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden to the Pinelands National Reserve in Winslow Township, and is expected to foster economic development.
Camden County had applied for the $19-million grant multiple times and was denied until this year. Large sums of money for such grants are difficult to obtain, so the new outlay is an important milestone.
“Applying for this grant multiple times and not receiving it was frustrating (but predictable), so to finally receive it made me very happy, very proud of our county for the work required to obtain this.” said Nash.
Sen. Cory Booker even commented on the project.
“This vital federal investment in the LINK Trail in Camden County underscores our commitment to creating a vibrant outdoor experience for residents and visitors,” he observed.
“By connecting communities and expanding access to nature, we are fostering a more integrated and healthier region in South Jersey and Pennsylvania.”