ChesCo Trail Inching Closer to Route 422 Bridge

Newly paved trail (at top) extends from East Coventry’s Towpath Park north toward Kenilworth and the Route 724 interchange at U.S. Route 422

ChesCo Trail Inching Closer to Route 422 Bridge
A bicyclist heads south toward Mont Clare from the Parker Ford trailhead

EAST COVENTRY PA – A ribbon of asphalt (at top) continues to snake across a four-mile stretch of nearby Chester County, as construction crews work this month (October 2021) to complete installation of a Schuylkill River Trail extension. It’s running between Linfield Road in Parker Ford, and the U.S. Route 422 bridge at the Montgomery and Chester counties’ border near Lower Pottsgrove, Pottstown, and Kenilworth.

The $6 million project is labeled as Phase 2 of Chester County’s portion of the trail. It also includes building a new trailhead parking lot at the intersection of Linfield Road and Route 724 (below), and re-surfacing and paving the county’s existing portion of the trail from Parker Ford to Mont Clare. It got under way with a ground-breaking ceremony during April.

ChesCo Trail Inching Closer to Route 422 Bridge
Work continues as well on a new 30-vehicle parking lot at the Parker Ford trailhead at Linfield Road and Route 724

Shiny black asphalt of the paved path is closing a gap – Chester County calls it a “priority puzzle piece” – in the trail. Its progress can be easily spotted on portions of open land at the side of 724, as drivers head southeast toward Phoenixville. Its presence may seem most prominent, though, in East Coventry Township’s Towpath Park.

The extension is being built in part on a former rail corridor, as well as along the former towpath of the Schuylkill Navigation Company Canal featured within the park. For trail users, Towpath Park’s amenities can serve as an enhanced stop to rest or eat under shelter outdoors (below). For kids at the park playground, users themselves may represent a constant flow of added entertainment.

ChesCo Trail Inching Closer to Route 422 Bridge
A picnic shelter in Towpath Park provides a resting place for users of the Schuylkill River Trail,
seen in the immediate background, as a car passes by on Route 724 just beyond

Because the trail is recognized by Chester County as “a local, regional and statewide transportation priority,” created as “shared-use path for non-motorized modes of travel,” its cost is covered by a Federal Highway Administration program. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is overseeing the construction.

Several portions of the trail received heavy use during the pandemic, and officials indicate they expect its traffic will continue through and beyond the recovery. “We know that trails are being used more and more for commuting, and businesses use them to attract and retain employees,” Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell said.

The county’s own research also shows that “living close to protected open spaces, including trails, increases the value of homes by, on average, $11,000,” he added.

Once the Chester County work is finished, the Schuylkill River Trail will parallel the river from the 422 Bridge at Pottstown south to the Route 29 Bridge into Mont Clare, a distance of about 12 miles. The entire trail ultimately will run from Frackville, Schuylkill County, to the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Photos by The Post