CAMDEN, NJ— The walkway along the Camden waterfront could soon be extended to North Camden, connecting Cooper’s Poynt Waterfront Park to the promenade that extends south to the Battleship New Jersey.
Camden County, in partnership with Cooper’s Ferry, is currently conducting a concept development study to look at different ways to connect the North Camden park to the walkway that currently runs along the Delaware River from the Battleship New Jersey to Pearl Street, just south of the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The county has received funding from the New Jersey Department of Transportation [NJDOT] to conduct the study.
Thursday evening, the county held a public information center at Camden Lutheran Housing to get resident feedback on which of the three proposed connections the community would prefer.
With a number of projects along the Camden waterfront set to be completed within the next year or two, the county estimates that up to 3,000 pedestrians could travel along the waterfront path on a daily basis. Currently, the path sees around 70 pedestrians per day.
The first option proposed by the county, alternative one, would use the existing street network to connect the walkway along the waterfront to the walkway in the park. It proposes restriping Pearl Street to create two, 15-feet shared use lanes that would extend to Delaware Avenue, and a new, 10-feet wide multi-use side path along Elm Street down to the park. No changes are proposed to Delaware Avenue. According to the project manager, engineer Michael Camerlengo of STV, Inc., the estimated cost of alternative one is $200,000 to $400,000.
Alternative two proposes a 20-feet wide shared use path along the northside of Pearl Street that would extend to the Ben Franklin Bridge bulkhead. The path would then extend north across two covered bridges that would span an inlet of the Delaware River adjacent to the bulkhead and a wetland area a little further north. The estimated cost is $3 million, Camerlengo said.
Alternative three proposes a direct connection from the existing waterfront path to Cooper’s Poynt Waterfront Park by constructing a 20-feet wide covered connection bridge that would span the Delaware River underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge. The connection bridge would also be elevated 10 feet to allow for the clearance of Delaware River Port Authority [DRPA] Safety boat. The estimated cost is $5 million, said Camerlengo.
Alicia Good has lived in Camden for her whole life, and currently lives in the River Towers apartment building along Mickle Boulevard just a few blocks away from the waterfront. Thursday evening Good said she preferred alternative three.
“I like the more direct path, it's easier,” Good said, adding that she walks the path a regular basis. “When you’re a senior, you like the easier way to get around.”
Betsy Clifford, executive director of Camden Lutheran Housing, said in a perfect world she also preferred alternative three, but expressed concerns over the potential $5 million price tag.
“I’d rather see something done than something planned that is so grandiose that its not possible for a long time,” Clifford said, adding that one of the goals of the North Camden neighborhood plan was to create a linear park all along the Delaware River.
“I think the connecting is very important,” Clifford said. “[Alternative] one is the easiest and most reasonable, but not the most picturesque. And number three is highly desirable if we access to all the money available.”
North Camden resident Luis Gaitan preferred alternative two, but had concerns over the proposed covering over the bridges and the increased cost they present. According to Camerlengo, the DRPA requested any pathway underneath the bridge to be covered to protect pedestrians from any type of debris that might fall from the bridge.
“I like the idea,” Gaitan said. “I think ultimately seeing how Philadelphia is operated, kind of connecting the waterway, particularly the Schuylkill trail, I think that’s perfect. I wish there was more to connect to other than trail, but I think that comes with these kinds of connections.”
The next steps for the county are to choose a preferred alternative, draft a concept development report and then submit that report have it approved by the NJDOT by June of this year.
The county is also still looking for resident feedback on the project up until April 12. County officials urge the public to take on online survye. More information on the project can be viewed by clicking here: Cooper's Poynt Waterfront Walkway PIC.