The Camden County Parks Department received a $19 million grant to further develop the LINK Trail. This will be part of the Circuit Trails, one of America’s largest trail networks and, once completed, will link nine counties in Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey to more than 800 miles of interconnected multiuse trails.
The funds come from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity Grants program.
“This is a transformative project that will enhance the lives of our residents and visitors even further,” Commissioner Jeff Nash, liaison to the Parks Department, said. “We see the importance in investing in accessible, top-quality outdoor spaces and we are thrilled that the Department of Transportation feels the same way. Paired with our ongoing $100 million parks revitalization initiative, Camden County is on track to becoming a top outdoor activities destination on the East Coast.”
The $19 million grant will be used to construct three critical segments of the LINK that are in Camden and Pennsauken Township and consist of about 3.8 miles of new paved shared-use path and multiple complex bridge structures.
When completed, the Camden County LINK Trail will travel through 17 Camden County communities, from the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden to the Pinelands National Reserve in Winslow Township.
“This trail will not only provide residents and visitors with ample space to exercise, but it will also connect people from numerous communities to different municipalities, businesses, employment opportunities, parks and open spaces,” Nash continued. “And an added bonus from the project will be the inevitable economic development in the areas along the trail.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends greenway infrastructure, such as trails and parks, to encourage increased physical activity in communities. Physical activity relieves stress, improves sleep and brain health and can reduce the risks for more than 20 chronic diseases including heart disease, some cancers, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Outdoor activities have also been linked with health benefits including reduced blood pressure, stress and depression.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) has always been an outdoor enthusiast and advocated for the grant award to continue the progress that has been made over the last six years.
“The Camden County LINK trail has been designed to connect people and places in South Jersey,” Norcross said. “I was proud to support this funding in Congress, and I am excited to announce this $19 million to expand and improve the trail for people throughout our region to enjoy. I will continue to fight for funding that will spur economic growth, create jobs and improve health and well-being in South Jersey.”
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.
“This massive award is a testament to the commitment of the county, its board of commissioners and the many advocates who have fought for years to reconnect Camden’s neighborhoods currently separated by highways,” said Justin Dennis, New Jersey vice chair of the Circuit Trails Coalition. “Thanks to these efforts and this critical funding, Camden residents will soon be able to access safe routes and bridges to be active and enjoy their local and regional parks, trails and business districts. This is a great example of how more New Jersey counties can tap into available federal dollars to connect their communities to active transportation networks and the Circuit Trails.”