State offers updates on statewide pathways projects


Those traveling along Fred Hudson Road north of Bethany Beach may have noticed some work in the area in recent weeks. DelDOT maintenance crews have been making a final connection in the path from Delaware Seashore State Park across Fred Hudson Road near McCoy’s Way, which will then tie into the sidewalks near the Salt Pond and Harris Teeter.

Coastal Point • SubmittedCoastal Point • Submitted
The path, which will be constructed of stone, is one of many projects highlighted in a joint DNREC/DelDOT workshop this week in Lewes.

The rest of the project within the state park consists of putting marker posts in and upgrading the existing Prickly Pear Trail near Fresh Pond with crushed stone material. In the future, this existing state park trail would connect with the proposed Assawoman Canal Trail, which is still in the concept phase.

The Assawoman Canal path project is proposed to start in Ocean View. The canal connects the towns of Ocean View, Bethany Beach and South Bethany and the communities of Salt Pond, Turtle Walk, Sea Colony, Ocean Way Estates, Bahamas Beach Cottages, Collins Park and Cat Hill. According to the plan, challenges include at-grade road crossings at Cedar Neck Road, Route 26 and Kent Avenue, which are needed for the trail.

The proposed projects are part of Gov. Jack Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative. In June of 2011, the General Assembly passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 13, which requested “the study of the building and maintaining of non-motorized travel connections within and between communities, cities and towns in Delaware and to link those connections to form uninterrupted networks for walking and bicycling.”

The proposed plan has the ultimate goal of creating a statewide link from northern New Castle County to southern and eastern Sussex County, with an objective of balancing a statewide network with regional and local trail networks to be used independently. In addition, the General Assembly allocated $7 million within last year’s bond bill to initiate design and development.

John Giangrant of Century Engineering explained that the Fred Hudson Road project will make a “great tie-in” with what is happening at the edge of Delaware Seashore State Park. David Bartoo, trail planner for Delaware State Parks, explained that the path will start around McCoy’s Way and will connect to an existing state park bridge/boardwalk.

“The tourism folks have been extremely supportive,” said James Wilson, executive director of Bike Delaware, an organization that advocates for a “bicycle-friendly” Delaware. “People are not coming here to see Broadway shows, they are coming to be active.”

Public health advocates have also been vocally supportive for the trails and pathway initiative for the state, making outdoor recreation a safe, healthy reality for all.

Wilson explained that, for the people who have reservations about safety or “not in my back yard” attitudes about some of the larger initiatives, like the Lewes to Georgetown trail – which is in Phase I, a shared-use rail-with trail pathway from the Lewes Rehoboth Canal west to Savannah Road, and will eventually have a connection from the Junction & Breakwater trailhead at Gills Neck Road, and pending funding in future years, extend west, connecting Cape Henlopen State Park across the county to Georgetown – there is a simple solution.

“The safest way to keep the trails safe is for people to be out there, using them.” He thanked state Sen. Robert Venables and Sen. David Wilson for their help in making trails in Sussex County a General Assembly priority.

Public comment on the proposed trails and pathways were accepted at the workshop and will be accepted by email to susan.moerschel@state.de.us or james.westhoff@state.de.us.