TRAILS: Delaware putting money where its mouth is

The trails of Cape Henlopen State Park, studded recently with blooming prickly pear cactuses and the ever-present World War II fire towers, will get a lift with new Bond Bill funding. BY DENNIS FORNEY
June 24, 2011

I drove to Dover Wednesday afternoon to watch Gov. Jack Markell sign Senate Concurrent Resolution 13 (SCR13) which calls on DelDOT to come before the Bond Bill Committee every year and demonstrate what it is doing to link the communities of the state with hiking and biking trails. The Bond Bill Committee, headed by Sen. Bob Venables of Laurel - an avid bicyclist and trail advocate - wants Delaware to get serious about offering more biking and walking opportunities.

The big news is that while the Governor - also an avid cyclist - was signing the resolution, the biking and walking community outside the Governor's Legislative Hall office was buzzing with talk of the $7 million plus funding dollars the committee has included in this year's bill.

Natural Resources Secretary Collin O'Mara said $2 million will be used for trail improvements inside state parks and the other $5 million for the type of community links envisioned in SCR13.  These will include projects throughout the state. In Sussex, dollars will be spent on improvements to trails in Cape Henlopen and Trap Pond state parks. Both have extensive biking and hiking trail systems.

In Cape Henlopen State Park, O'Mara said dollars will likely be used for the first phase of a project to link the Gordons Pond trail system at the south end of the park with the system of trails in the north end of the park.  Putting that together with the Junction and Breakwater Trail, and with Lewes and Rehoboth Beach in between, will create a loop trail in the magnitude of 25 miles.  World class.

Outside the parks, the money will put new impetus behind a first phase for the rail alignment trail connecting Lewes and Georgetown and all the new and established communities in between. That trail too will eventually connect with the Junction and Breakwater Trail.

For people into being outdoors, and making their way between Sussex County communities on foot and on bicycles, these are exciting times. Delaware is putting its money where its mouth is in terms of becoming one of the nation's most bikeable and walkable states.

It's all very cool.