Delaware Department of Transportation has completed final plans on Milton’s Rails to Trails extension - from Federal Street to Lavinia Street - and will bid the project in late September.
DelDOT spokesman C.R. McLeod said construction should begin in February. He said the $1 million trail extension should be finished by late summer, although that is subject to change.
The project will install 1,600 feet of trail and rebuild the railroad bridge along the route, connecting Wagamon’s West Shores with the rest of Milton.
DelDOT had originally proposed construction over the summer, but McCloud said final plans were delayed by factors that include the connector to Wagamon’s West Shores, the feasibility of a lighting system and ironing out details of the bridge rehabilitation.
McLeod said no conduits or electrical equipment will be installed as part of DelDOT’s contract. He said lighting is a decision for the town, but the project has been designed with a conceptual lighting plan in mind to facilitate installing lights.
Lighting has been the most significant source of controversy for the project. Homeowners on West Shore Drive, which borders the trail, have opposed lighting the trail for reasons including cost, people using the trail at all hours and lights shining into their homes.
Town officials, including Town Manager Kristy Rogers and Chief Robert Longo, support lights for safety and security reasons. In June, despite Wagamon’s West Shores protests, town council approved, by 5-1 vote, allowing Rogers to seek grant funding to install lights, echoing concerns about safety, and because it would be better and cheaper to at least install conduits when the trail is being constructed rather than after the trail is finished.
Rogers has said the lights will cost $175,000 and then $6,000 per year, or $500 per month, to maintain. Delmarva Power will install the lights and provide the fixtures, while the town will maintain them.
Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting the grant application for the lights with Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control at council’s Sept. 9 meeting.
McLeod said there is no regulation or policy relating to lighting multi-use pathways such as the Rails to Trails, and DelDOT has deferred to the town.