Cape Gazette

Governor asked to consider alternative trail

By John and Donna Beecher | Jul 03, 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

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joseph Tomlinson | Jul 04, 2014 09:56

Mary & John et al:

From what I can see, in the spirit of disclosure, it would have been appropriate to point out that it appears that you live at the proposed trail intersection of Gills Neck Road and the new Georgetown-Lewes trail termination point?  If I am correct, I guess it would be more convenient for you to end the trail at the new library trailhead?

In the spirit of disclosure, I am a resident of the Senators development off Gills Neck Road so I too have vested interest in trails development and have my own recommendations.

It is my opinion that we all need to recognize the current reality in that we have large population growth along Gills Neck Road and that growth is going to continue rapidly over the next few years with the new Governors and Showfield developments coming online. Everybody knows this but wants to ignore it?

Gills Neck Road can not stay the two lane shoulder-less road that exists today.  To move the volume of cars, pedestrians and bikes along the primary access route into Lewes town, the road will need to be updated with at least shoulders.  The existing bike paths should be extended all the way into town, albeit at the existing Gills Neck Road residents displeasure.   We have a case here of the needs of the many outweighing..

It is my hope that we will all make the sacrifices necessary, be it personal property or financial to build the entire network of recreational  infrastructure to support the present and future families and visitors of Lewes.  We can't hunker down and ignore what is going on on Gills Neck.  Its already happened!!!  In my opinion, we should complete all the Sussex Beaches trail projects now on our watch, not kick them down the narrow road.  More bikes and pedestrians using the new trail infrastructure means less cars.

Imagine when all the me-centeric fussing and grumbling about the proposed trails on the drawing boards have run their course and the designs have been implemented.  Everybody won't be happy, but most will be.  Take note of the new Gordon's Pond Trail. WOW!!!  Thank you Governor and to those that made it happen.  It took a long timer, but it got done.

The Georgetown Lewes Trail should be implemented as recommended by DelDot immediately.  The right of way is there and we should move forward now.  Why not?

The Breakwater Trail connection from Gills Neck to Kings Highway needs to be a priority.  Whatever the status of the litigation, it will ultimately be resolved and hopefully something like the original proposed trail design will be implemented.  The trail was shovel ready before the suit and would have been long done and being used by the public.  From what I see the trail route was on planning documents a long time ago and residents should have known their home was to be on the new trail. Hopefully we will have the extension for next summer?

Lets all think about the future big picture where we have a wonderful network of trails to bike and walk to get to and around town or nature.  Its important to put all the spokes on the wheel, not just where it is convenient.

I note that John and Donna copied the Governor on their open letter.  Somehow, I think the Governor's vision is more aligned with this writing?  One can hope?

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