Planning and Building Trails in Under-Served Urban Communities with Multiple Partners

Two case studies lay out the opportunities and challenges with completing trails through a lengthy planning, design, and construction process with multiple planning partners and project funders.

by Daniel Ashworth, Design Associate and Office Manager, Alta Planning + Design, Sara Patterson, Michael Baker International


The first presentation focuses on the planning and design process of closing a gap in the Frankford Creek Greenway by working with the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and private developers to complete a 3.5-mile segment in the Circuit Trail network. Information on how the gap was identified, prioritized, planned, and funded will be provided.

The second presentation focuses on the Wolf River Greenway in Memphis, Tennessee, a 37-mile greenway system that was planned, programmed, designed, and began construction over the last five years. This implementation an construction-focused talk will delve into the challenges and opportunities of working with multiple project funders and partners - the Wolf River Conservancy, the City of Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The presenter will provide an implementation status update on completed trail sections, trail phases currently under construction, and trail phases still in design and review. The presentation will also discuss lessons learned in the field during construction.

Learning Objectives:

  • How to leverage a variety of instruments and partnerships to complete gaps in the trail network.
  • How to accomplish the phasing of a project from master plan to construction.
  • How to prepare trail phases for regulatory design reviews and approvals, bidding and construction based on the type of funding available.

About the Authors

Daniel Ashworth is a Design Associate and Office Manager in Alta Planning + Design’s Memphis office. He holds degrees in landscape architecture from Mississippi State University (B.L.A.) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.L.A.). He is a certified planner and holds landscape architecture licenses in three states (AR, FL, and TN). Daniel’s 15 years of professional experience includes comprehensive and master planning, site design, urban design, planting design, construction documents, and construction observation & administration. When away from work, he enjoys time with family, running and biking on trails, and going to music concerts and shows.

Sara Patterson, PhD, EIT, LEED AP; Michael Baker International. Sara Patterson has a PhD in Civil Engineering from University of Delaware and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her dissertation work focused on the design and implementation of complete streets across a network. She has been with Michael Baker International for five years where she has done trail design and feasibility studies, and trail coordination work for major highway projects. She is a mother of one and enjoys time outside on the local Circuit Trails.