In a major milestone for a project that Bike Delaware has been advocating for since 2011, DelDOT has – finally – awarded the contract to build Phase I of the Lewes-Georgetown Trail.
Bike Delaware’s first article on this project was published over 4 years ago – on June 14, 2011! – and was simply titled “Overdue.”
Phase I of the Lewes-Georgetown Trail will break ground in the spring of 2016 and will run from Gills Neck Road to Savannah Road along a little-used rail lane in Lewes. Future phases of the project will extend the 10 foot wide paved trail for a total of 17 miles (!) all the way to Georgetown, creating the longest trail in Delaware. Crucially, it will connect increasingly populous communities west of Route 1 in Sussex County to Lewes and (via the Junction & Breakwater Trail) to Rehoboth. The trail will also provide a much-needed safe, grade-separated crossing of the extremely busy and dangerous Route 1, going under the Nassau Bridge.
The Lewes-Georgetown Trail is an ambitious project which would not be possible without the support of the Delaware General Assembly, Sussex County Council and Governor Jack Markell:
- On May 12, 2011, the Delaware General Assembly passed Walkable Bikeable Delaware, which directed DelDOT to “create multi-use paths for pedestrian and bicycle user travel within and between cities and towns in Delaware on independent right-of-way outside of the right-of-way of existing roadways.”
- In September of 2011, Sussex County Council identified the Lewes-Georgetown Trail as a County transportation priority.
- Finally, and critically, Governor Markell included the project in his huge and ambitious First State Trails and Pathways Initiative.
Local cyclist Ray Quillen, who grew up in Lewes, has long waited for yesterday’s announcement. In fact, he has been so impatient for the trail to get started – and especially for the section under the Nassau Bridge – that last year he personally roughed out an unpaved section of trail underneath the Nassau Bridge. The Cape Gazette called Quillen a cyclist on a “mission” for the trail.
“I am pleased to see that the contract has been signed and awarded and I am anxious for the work get started and for this section to be completed,” said Quillen. “Once this section is completed I hope that the second phase can be started soon thereafter. I hope that once the entire trail is completed that I am still able to ride and enjoy it!”
Cengiz Tanverdi, who lives in the Red Mill Pond community just west of Route 1 – and who has been another tenacious advocate for the trail – was also pleased to hear that the contract for Phase I has been awarded, worrying only that he might “be using a tricycle by the time it’s finished.”
• Lewes cyclist on mission for new trail (Cape Gazette)