Fall start eyed for Lewes pedestrian improvements

Work will improve path from historical society to canal
A graphic shows the planned work to improve pedestrian access from the Lewes Historical Society main campus to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. SOURCE DELDOT
January 22, 2014

Pedestrians will have better access to the waterfront in Lewes thanks to a project set to get underway in the fall.

Lewes city officials, the Lewes Historical Society and the Delaware Department of Transportation are working together on an estimated $425,000 project that will connect the historical society's main campus to its life-saving station boathouse at the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

“It will be a benefit in that it will make it a more attractive access and create a more welcoming environment,” said Mike DiPaolo, executive director of the historical society. “Hopefully it will also provide a better sense of cohesion with rest of Canalfront Park.”

Ann Gravatt, project manager with DelDOT, said the plan is to lay a brick paver sidewalk along Shipcarpenter Street from Second Street to Pilottown Road as well as a section of brick paver sidewalk for the area between the life-saving station boathouse and Lightship Overfalls in the park.

A porous concrete sidewalk will be laid from the Pilottown Road entrance to the park along the tennis and basketball courts to the existing paths around the Lightship Overfalls. To better define and organize parking, bumpers will be added to the stone lot. As a side project, the city is exploring improving the lot.

Other improvements such as lighting, new landscaping and a new sign at the entrance are planned too.

The project is funded through the state's transportation enhancement program, which distributes money received from the federal government to projects throughout the state. In 2009, improvements to the Lightship Overfalls were funded by the program.

About 10 percent of current project cost will be the responsibility of the city and the historical society. How much each entity will pay has not yet been determined. The city is hoping to fund most of the project with Community Transportation Fund money from local legislators.

The historical society initially applied for funding in 2006, but the project was set aside when the recession hit. When the project came back to the forefront about three years ago, city officials jumped on board to include improvements to the Little League park and Canalfront Park areas around the life-saving station boathouse, said Deputy Mayor Ted Becker.

A public workshop was held Jan. 7 for residents to provide feedback to DelDOT and project engineer Century Engineering. Comments will be taken into consideration as engineers work toward finalizing the plan this month. City Manager Paul Eckrich anticipates the project will be ready to go to bid in late spring or early summer, and construction will begin in the fall. Work will not start before Coast Day Sunday, Oct. 5.