Trail projects deserve fast action
Delaware’s Department of Transportation rolled out plans recently for an extension of the Junction and Breakwater Trail from its current Hebron Road terminus to the traffic circle in Rehoboth Beach.
The plans should be welcomed loudly by not only the thousands of pedestrians and cyclists who use the trail annually, but also by the hundreds who walk the dangerous stretch of Rehoboth Avenue Extended between the canal drawbridge and the Church Street intersection. It’s in that stretch that a roller blader was critically injured last year by a hit-and-run driver never apprehended for the crime. What little shoulder there is does not qualify as a safe passageway for cyclists, pedestrians, roller bladers or skateboarders.
In addition to creation of a 10-foot wide multiuse pathway in that area of Rehoboth Avenue, along Church Street and along Hebron Road, the plan also calls for widening the sidewalk on the north side of the drawbridge to 10 feet so cyclists and pedestrians can use the sidewalk simultaneously. That plan would also give cyclists an alternative to the unfriendly metal grate of the bridge surface for those who choose to stay off the existing walkway.
The only question about the plan should not be whether it should be pursued, but how quickly it can be started. With Easter falling on April 20 this year, as late as it possibly can be, an already-long winter is going to feel especially long. But spring and summer will come, and with them the increased cyclist and pedestrian activity that Delaware is working to attract through its extensive trail initiatives. Safety has to be a primary concern, and in this case DelDOT is responding responsibly to a very dangerous situation. This is a plan that needs to be fast-tracked.
At the same time, at the Lewes end of the trail, pressure needs to be maintained to quickly settle the lawsuit delaying the extension of the trail there to get cyclists off the shoulderless Gills Neck Road. The S-curve in that road creates a danger equal to the Rehoboth Avenue Ext. danger and constitutes a classic accident waiting to happen. Both of these projects deserve immediate attention and should move ahead sooner, not later.