Ray Quillen: Cyclist on mission for new trailNassau bridge path would make Route 1 crossing safer
Lewes cyclist Ray Quillen is on a campaign. After nearly getting hit by a car trying to cross Route 1 north of the Nassau bridge, he is determined to make it safer.
His says a bike trail from Route 1 under the bridge connecting to Nassau Road and New Road would solve the problem. “Anyone who bikes knows that getting across Route 1 is a challenge,” Quillen said.
Thanks to Quillen, state transportation officials are taking a look at the area. Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, said officials are looking at the feasibility of a possible trail or a way to fast-track the proposed Georgetown to Lewes rail-trail in the area around the Nassau bridge. “This is really part of a larger project. They are looking to see if this small piece could be done sooner,” Lopez said.
Quillen said this section has been overlooked during the discussion on making Route 1 safer with additional sidewalks, more pedestrian crossings and street lighting. A legislative task force met three times to garner more information about pedestrian and cycling issues along the Route 1 corridor to make recommendations to the Delaware Department of Transportation.
Quillen said safe access for cyclists and pedestrians is provided under the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal bridge along the Forgotten Mile and even at Indian River Inlet bridge. “So why not Nassau?” he asked.
A plan to improve Route 1 safety calls for sidewalks along both sides of the highway from the Rehoboth Beach entrance to the Nassau bridge. Quillen says access to Nassau Road, under the bridge, would provide a route into Lewes.
If the proposed Georgetown to Lewes rail-trail project comes to fruition, it would include a section of trail under the bridge. But, Quillen says, that doesn't solve the immediate problem.
Biking to or from the Lewes area, most cyclists cross Route 1 at the Five Points traffic signal. Coming south along Route 1 before the bridge, cyclists must either go over the Nassau bridge to get to Five Points or bike across four lanes to use a crossover at the base of the bridge.
Quillen said that crossing is dangerous and it's not safe to bike over the bridge because of traffic and glass and other litter on the shoulder.
He estimates the path would be about seven-tenths of a mile long and could be constructed quickly of chipped stone, similar to the surface of the popular Junction and Breakwater Trail. “It does not need all of the bells and whistles; it can be simple,” he said, adding he's been told it would cost about $200,000.
Quillen has contacted local legislators requesting the use of community transportation funds to pay for the trail. He also attended the final task force meeting to voice his concerns to DelDOT officials, but he did not get much response.
“This trail needs to be done before someone gets killed. It is an injustice that the recent task force did not address this problem,” Quillen said. “There has got to be a better way.”
Quillen said several cyclists already use a make-shift path under the bridge for access to and from the Lewes area. “This should be opened up so all could use it,” he said.
State transportation officials conducted a study in 2011 on a road and multi-use path to connect Route 1 and New Road under the Nassau bridge. The study concluded the road would provide “a safer route for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing Route 1. It will also increase the opportunities for recreational activities in the area and will also improve trail connectivity for the Delaware trial system by access from existing trials – American Discover Trail and Junction and Breakwater Trail – to the future Georgetown to Lewes Trail."