(Cherry Hill, NJ) — Recently, 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 850 miles of interconnected multiuse trails.
The funds come from the US 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,” 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. 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 paths and multiple complex bridge structures. The total allocation of grant funds for this long-term project is now $31 million since 2018.
“In recent years, the city, county, and our partners have collectively invested upwards of $100 million into Camden’s parks, trails, and open spaces,” Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen said. “These are tangible investments into the quality of life for our residents and I am grateful to Congressman Donald Norcross, Sen. Booker and Sen. Menendez for their unwavering commitment to Camden City and for their continued advocacy for critical grant monies. I can proudly say, Camden boasts some of the best recreational and open spaces in this region. Upon completion, the multi-use LINK Trail will be one-of-a-kind attraction for all outdoor enthusiasts.”
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 CDC’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.
“The Camden County LINK trail has been designed to connect people and places in South Jersey,” Congressman Donald 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.”
Senator Cory Booker and his congressional counterparts were critical to assisting the county in qualifying for the RAISE grant.
“This vital federal investment in the LINK Trail in Camden County underscores our commitment to creating a vibrant outdoor experience for residents and visitors,” U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said. “By connecting communities and expanding access to nature, we are fostering a more integrated and healthier region in South Jersey and Pennsylvania. I’m proud to have secured this grant and look forward to working with leaders at all levels of government to enhance Camden County’s outdoor spaces for all to enjoy.”
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.”
Senator Bob Menendez discussed the positive impact the trail will have on the lives of Camden County residents.
“Connecting communities and expanding access to quality outdoor spaces and trails will enhance equity and quality of life, while also growing the economy, creating jobs, and improving health outcomes for residents of Camden County and the surrounding areas,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. “I was proud to support this $19 million in infrastructure funding in the Senate to expand the LINK Trail and make this innovative project a reality for communities throughout South Jersey. I will continue to advocate for funding such as this to grow opportunities for hardworking New Jerseyans.”
Ariella Maron, executive director for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, discussed how the trail will benefit the entire region.
“DVRPC is proud to support the Camden Link Trail – a key component of DVRPC’s Circuit Trail network, a regional network of more than 800 miles of multi-use trails connecting communities, natural areas, and other destinations throughout Greater Philadelphia, said DVRPC Executive Director Ariella Maron. “We look forward to working with all our local, state, and federal partners to continue to advance the Camden Link and the rest of the Circuit Network; which together will bring us closer to realizing our vision for an equitable, resilient, sustainable region with a thriving economy and healthy communities.”