Governor asked to consider alternative trail

July 3, 2014

The following letter was sent to Gov. Jack Markell with a copy submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication.

We are writing to you to ask you to modify the plan for the proposed bike trail in Lewes. The current plan calls for the bike trail to run from Savannah Road to a new trailhead adjacent to the new Lewes library and continuing to Gills Neck Road. Our objection is to the section between the trailhead and Gills Neck Road. We have a better idea!

Gills Neck Road between Savannah Road and the Wolfe Pointe development is a very narrow road, unsafe for a mix of trucks, cars, cyclists and pedestrians. There are no shoulders. Some sections between Savannah Road and Schley Avenue have deep ruts at the edge of the road and no sidewalks. The section approaching the Wolfe Pointe development includes blind S-curves.

When planners first considered connecting the Junction & Breakwater Trail from Rehoboth Beach to downtown Lewes, they wanted to create a new bike trail across the proposed Showfield development in order to give cyclists a safer alternative than Gills Neck Road. A later plan to cross through the Breakwater development has been blocked by lawsuits from property owners.

As things now stand, there is no connection between the Junction & Breakwater Trail and the new trailhead. Hopefully a way will be found in the near future to make this connection. It was recognized then, and should be recognized now, that Gills Neck Road is not a safe connection between the Junction & Breakwater Trail and downtown Lewes. New housing developments are adding even more cars and more cyclists to the dangerous stretch of Gills Neck Road.

The proposed trail connecting Georgetown and Lewes should not further exasperate this dangerous situation. If the trail continues beyond the trailhead to Gills Neck Road, cyclists will enter Gills Neck Road with two options: turn right toward the blind S-curves (and the Junction & Breakwater Trail) or turn left to the intersection with Savannah Road at the foot of the drawbridge over the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal (to downtown Lewes, Lewes Beach and Cape Henlopen State Park).

There is a far better alternative! Simply, terminate the Georgetown-Lewes trail at the trailhead. Cyclists can use several different streets to reach downtown Lewes. They can also use Monroe Avenue to cross Freeman Highway, which already has bike lanes to reach Lewes Beach, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, and Cape Henlopen State Park. The alternative is not only safer, but more direct.

The alternative has another significant advantage. It is less expensive! Less trail would need to be built/ maintained and fewer existing encroachments would need to be removed at State expense.

Thank you for your consideration.

John and Donna Beecher

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