Thanks to a bold plan devised by NJDOT, the city of Trenton is once again about to reconnect to its riverfront across an at-grade, traffic calmed boulevard that will function as a link rather than as a barrier to the many residents, state employees and visitors to the state capital. In order to expand the positive impacts of the newly designed Route 29 more deeply into the communities that lay along the alignment, NJDOT and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded PPS to work with Isles, a local community development corporation, to develop a safe walking route that would connect the city’s 108 religious institutions to the riverfront, adjacent neighborhoods, and each other.
Building on the annual Spirit Walk health awareness event that takes place in Cadawalader Park, this re-imagined Spirit Walk initiative was designed to lead to permanent improvements to the pedestrian infrastructure of downtown Trenton as well as to promote healthy lifestyles, safe streets, and the city’s wealth of religious institutions and historic and cultural landmarks. Additional goals included using the Spirit Walk as the first piece of a citywide streetscape, wayfinding, and public space enhancement plan; tying faith-based and other community services— parks, libraries, schools, farmers market—together; connecting the walk to ongoing transportation planning projects underway in the City of Trenton; and making Trenton’s built environment more conducive to an active lifestyle.
With these goals in mind, PPS and Isles. Inc. conducted several community meetings and a broader Placemaking workshop to gather ideas and identify key concerns from stakeholders. PPS’ comprehensive report, modeled after this community input, featured recommendations focused on specific districts along the walk, as well as design features including signage and branding. The report also included case studies from successful walking routes throughout the country.