A $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will help fund an addition to the Schuylkill River Trail that will connect Center City to Southwest Philadelphia.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, more commonly known as a TIGER grant, will go toward connecting the existing trail's southern end at Christian Street with the Grays Ferry Crescent, which now sits disconnected from the rest of the trail, Sens. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) announced. The expansion will bring the trail closer to an eventual connection with Bartram's Garden.

It is the third TIGER grant that has been awarded to develop the trail, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

To connect the gap known as the Christian to Crescent Connection, developers will have to use a cable bridge to span the river in what is still an active industrial area.

Artist rendering of the proposed Schuylkill River Trail addition, which would span from Christian Street to the Grays Ferry Crescent.
Touchstone Architecture
Artist rendering of the proposed Schuylkill River Trail addition, which would span from Christian Street to the Grays Ferry Crescent.

The total cost of the project, which is slated to begin construction in 2020, is $36 million. The remaining two-thirds of the funding will come from the state, the city, the William Penn Foundation, and other sources, according to a statement from the senators.

"Investing in the Schuylkill River Trail expansion isn't just about enhancing another one of the City of Philadelphia's many tourist attractions – this is an investment in the economy, health and growth of the city," Casey said in the statement. "Providing a safe and sustainable way for residents to commute and enjoy the city not only makes it attractive for newcomers but also for businesses."

The trail, which was named USA Today's Best Urban Trail in a 2015 readers' choice poll, is expected to be almost 130 miles when it is completed.

"The Schuylkill River Trail is one of the country's preeminent and scenic recreational areas serving as a destination for runners, family outings, and those looking to relax," Toomey said in the statement. "And now, this grant will help improve the trail even more by connecting Center City to Southwest Philly."

Currently, about 60 miles of the trail have been finished. The newest section of the trail opened Jan. 31, spanning from South to Christian Streets.