The implementation of Gov. Jack Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative is beginning in downtown Dover. On Friday, members of DelDOT, DNREC, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and city officials came together in front of Legislative Hall in Dover to break ground on the Capital City Trails.
“The Capital City Trails project is a part of the First State Trails and Pathways program in which the General Assembly authorized funding to develop a network of interconnected trails and pathways around the First State,” said Delaware Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt.
The ground that the men were standing on will soon be part of the pathway. The first phase of the walking and biking path in Dover will connect to the existing Silver Lake trail at Division Street, run in front of Legislative Hall and continue along Court Street until it reaches the Public Safety Boulevard Pathway and the Isaacs Branch Trail. The Capital City Trail will be central Delaware’s largest walking and biking path, said Bhatt.
“It’s a top priority for us to develop transportation options, in addition to automobile traffic. By building bicycle and pedestrian pathways we will encourage people to walk and bike more instead of just having the option of taking a car,” Bhatt said.
Phase One of the trail system will feature a walking path from Public Safety Boulevard along the west side of U.S. Route 13, to the south side of Martin Luther King Boulevard and will cross in front of Legislative Hall.
This first leg of the project is slated to take about four months to construct, said Bhatt. Phase Two of the project will eventually link Legislative Hall to Loockerman and Phase Three will connect Loockerman and Park Drive.
Charles Salkin, director of DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation said the outlaid path will be good for city residents and visitors alike.
“Not only will this connect to other trails and businesses and to government centers, but it’s actually a link to First State Heritage Park here in Dover and so it will be used by residents and tourists and commuters,” Salkin said.
The trail could also help Dover to attract new businesses, Bhatt said.
“When you look at communities and states that are attracting jobs and companies, right now they’re the ones that have amenities like these,” he said. “People will say, ‘What can you offer us and offer the employees that are going to be living in these communities as options in terms of getting around?’”
The 4.5 miles of trails will feature a 10-foot wide pathway, landscaping and lighting that is consistent with the rest of downtown Dover.
Page 2 of 2 - “It’s going to be a nice place for people to relax,” said Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey. “People can take their lunch out there or read a book. It will be a good place for people get exercise. It’s a good place for families because kids can ride their bikes off the road, people can get out and see the beauty of nature.”
Aside from offering area residents the opportunity to get out into the great outdoors, Bhatt said the path will also help keep them safe.
“Another vital goal that we’re meeting is improving safety for all users, vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists,” he said. “A dedicated walking and bicycle path will ensure bikes and walkers are out of the way of vehicular traffic and vice versa.”
Avid cyclist and local massage therapist Chris Asay attended the ground breaking to show his support for the project.
“I will definitely use it for recreation and transportation,” Asay said. “It will be great because it goes from downtown to the highway and across the highway. The highway is a major obstacle for bicyclists. I think this will encourage people to get out because they can do it on more bikeable roads.”