New year, new trail

Paved path connects Nassau, Route 9

New Lewes segment to be finished by spring; Georgetown to start in 2020
January 4, 2019

With unusually warm weather New Year's Day, local cyclists, walkers and runners were quick to get out on a newly paved section of the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail in the Nassau area.

The 3.2-mile, $1.27-million trail will run from the Savannah Road entrance to Lewes to Sweetbriar Road near the Route 9 intersection, and is expected to be completed this spring.

The first section of the trail, from Gills Neck Road across from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal swing bridge to Savannah Road, was opened in October 2016.

While much of the paving work is completed in the Lewes area, the trail is not finished, McLeod said. The contractor still has to regrade ditches along the trail path, complete final paving, improve road crossings and erect signs, he said.

Next, state transportation officials plan to focus on construction on Phase 3 in Georgetown for the 17-mile trail from the area near the Little League park to Park Avenue. Work will start in the spring or summer of 2020, said Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman C.R. McLeod.

Quillen sees dream come true

Very few cyclists ride more on the roads and trails of the Lewes area than Ray Quillen, who lives in Red Mill Pond community. Quillen can be seen just about every day, riding a loop through Lewes, Cape Henlopen State Park and Rehoboth Beach, and back home.

As a cycling advocate, Quillen has lobbied state transportation officials and local elected officials for more than four years to build a trail under the Nassau bridge so cyclists and pedestrians do not have to cross Route 1.

Quillen and other cyclists have used a makeshift trail along Route 1 under the Nassau bridge to New Road until the new trail could be constructed.

“Safety is the No. 1 aspect, but it also offers another place to be able to ride without having to worry about sharing our busy roads with motor vehicles,” he said.

Nearing its completion, Phase 2 of the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail achieves that goal.

Quillen said he knows some people are skeptical that a trail network can be part of a transportation solution. “But it certainly can be,” he said.

He said he knows several people who live west of Route 1 who plan to use the trail not only to ride to the grocery store, but also to ride to the beach so they can escape traffic.

“I see people just outside of Rehoboth riding their bikes to their beach with their chairs and packs on their backs, and often they get there faster and with a smile on their face,” he said. “Lewes and Rehoboth officials should encourage people to do this to help not only with the traffic but parking problems. The expansion of these trails can help sell this idea.”

The Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail links to Cape Henlopen State Park and the Gordons Pond Trail as well as the Junction and Breakwater Trail with access to Rehoboth Beach. Quillen said the new trail opens up opportunities to more people living on the west side of Route 1.

Quillen, who has lived in the area all his life, said this is a great time to be cyclist. “In the last two years, I have ridden over 9,000 miles, and most of it has been in Lewes and Rehoboth, and I am looking forward to riding more this year,” he said.

He's excited about the completion of Phase 2 of the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail and is looking forward to future phases as well as the purchase of land for a trailhead at the halfway point of the trail in Coolspring.

“I am also excited about the plans for development of the rail trail in Milton and talk about how this trail will eventually connect with the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail giving us more places to ride safely,” Quillen said.

Section named for Tom Draper

Part of the trail has been named in honor of Tom Draper, owner of WBOC-TV, who died from injuries sustained in a crash Sept. 7, 2017, when he was hit by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle on Slaughter Neck Road.

An informational kiosk containing a biography of Draper and map of the area will be placed along the trail near the Lewes Senior Center.

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