Cape Gazette

Rehoboth Avenue trailhead plans on hold

Proposed extension estimated to cost $1 million
By Ryan Mavity | May 16, 2014
Photo by: Ryan Mavity DelDOT has put a plan to connect the Junction and Breakwater Trail with Rehoboth Avenue on hold until next fiscal year. Rehoboth officials have raised concerns over the proposed trailhead's effect on bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Rehoboth Beach — Plans to help people using the Junction and Breakwater Trail reach Rehoboth Avenue are on hold, but Rehoboth Beach offi­cials have raised safety concerns about the proposed plan.

Marco Boyce, planner for Delaware Department of Trans­portation, said the agency has proposed an an 8- to 10-foot-wide paved pathway from the Junc­tion and Breakwater Trail to the Rehoboth Avenue traffic circle.

At Rehoboth Avenue, Boyce said, the path would be on the north side of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal Bridge. The sidewalk on the north side of the bridge and the approaches to the bridge will be widened to allow for two-way bicycle and pedestrian traffic on the same sidewalk.

Commissioner Stan Mills said putting bicyclists on sidewalks contradicts city policy, and bik­ers going both ways on the same sidewalk makes the problem worse.

“The trail plan seeks to merge with city routes, and I believe that a plan that incorporates the above scenarios will send mixed mes­sages to bike riders,” Mills said.

“Getting the pathway to the roundabout is critical, as this will serve to disperse bicycle and pedestrian traffic throughout the rest of Rehoboth in a controlled and safe manner via not only Rehoboth Avenue, but Columbia Avenue to the north and Grove Street to the south,” Boyce said.

The trail splits in two as it ap­proaches Holland Glade Road. Under DelDOT’s proposal, the northern section of the trail, which ends at Holland Glade Road, would be extended down Hebron Road and link up with the south trail at Canal Street. From there, DelDOT has pro­posed three alternatives to travel on Church Street to Rehoboth Avenue.

Boyce said funding for final design and construction is not yet available. He said the $1 mil­lion project has been put on hold until next fiscal year because of a lack of funding. He said Gov. Jack Markell’s proposed 10-cent increase to the state gas tax for in­frastructure improvements would help in funding the trailhead.

It appears DelDOT will also have to win over Rehoboth offi­cials not totally convinced about the plans.

Mayor Sam Cooper said at this point, the beginning of the trail in Rehoboth is not very well thought out, as it is unclear where people would get on or off. He said the city needs to know how the connection will be used and how many people expect to use it. Cooper said DelDOT has not yet defined whether the con­nection would be used primarily for bicyclists or pedestrians, as an alternative route into Re­hoboth or a recreational trail.

Commissioner Bill Sargent, chairman of the city’s streets and transportation committee, said the committee has urged Coo­per to write a letter to DelDOT spelling out the city’s desire to be actively involved with the planning.

Boyce said within Rehoboth, users would access the trail at the Rehoboth Avenue traffic circle and at the canal bridge. He said Rehoboth is on board to provide design feedback and guidance and help with the public out­reach effort. Boyce said the city and DelDOT would have to work out a maintenance agreement for the portions of the trail within Rehoboth.

“We’ve met with city leader­ship to discuss the concept plan as currently envisioned, and any changes will be closely coordi­nated,” he said. Boyce said the trailhead would be used for bicycle and pedestri­an transportation and recreation.

“I suspect it will be equally both bicycle and pedestrian traf­fic nearer to Rehoboth city limits, but favoring bike traffic farther out toward Lewes,” he said.

A map of the proposed Junction and Breakwater Trail connection with Rehoboth Avenue. (Courtesy of: DelDOT)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Joseph Tomlinson | May 17, 2014 08:55

It is shameful that Rehoboth Officials/Politicians and DelDOT don't make this an important priority and figure out how to get this done now.

The Hebron Road improvements can wait, in my opinion, as there is already a bike lane/path/sidewalk along Hebron onto Canal Street.

The priority needs to be from Church Street, over the canal, to a terminus near the circle or into Grove Park.  From the circle/park bikers/pedestrians can safely get into town or use Columbia all the way out to Gordon's Pond and the new connector trail to Herring Point.

Why would this final 300 yards be so hard to resolve?  How much "study" can it take to determine the best and safest access into Rehoboth?  I personally attended a public meeting January 28th and saw these same maps presented by DelDOT.  The quotes in this article make it sound like this is a new proposal?

Why wasn't a right of way determined before Shoal Harbor was approved and under development?  The trail was there and needed a terminus before Shoal Harbor was finalized?

Look at the map.  There aren't a lot of available access points left? If the whole project costs $1 million, the last 300 yards shouldn't cost all that much?

It seems clear to me that Rehoboth Officials are stonewalling and local Politicians, other than our Governor, haven't mounted the soap box to proclaim their support.  I am sure DelDOT would like to proceed, why wouldn't they?

Maybe Rehoboth Officials, Politicians and DelDOT can narrow their focus to the last 300 yards and solve this problem now before all the available parcels and access points are used up by development and the opportunity is lost forever.

Many of my comments apply to the Lewes end of the trail too.

Posted by: Tim McCollum | May 19, 2014 08:56

RB should be concerned about safety. The DelDOT plan is not in the best interest of public safety. Common sense is best.  Church and the Avenue is a controlled intersection.  Cyclists need to navigate that by "the rules of the road".  Promoting two way cycling on a sidewalk is a disaster no matter how wide the sidewalk.

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