The Junction and Breakwater Trail Links Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

DelDOT aanounces plans for new trail section

Link provides safe access to downtown Lewes

Cape Gazettem May 11, 2012

By Ron MacArthur | May 11, 2012
Photo by: Ron MacArthur The popular Junction and Breakwater Trail provides a safe route for walkers, bikers and runners between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

The missing link in the popular Junction and Breakwater Trail will soon be filled.

The trail connects Lewes and Rehoboth Beach for walkers, runners and bicyclists. To access the trail from Lewes, many use narrow Gills Neck Road, which has a dangerous S-curve and no shoulder.

The new trail section solves the safety problem by extending the trail bypassing Gills Neck Road to Freeman Highway and Monroe Avenue into Lewes. It also provides a direct connection to the proposed Georgetown-Lewes rails-to-trails project.

Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt announced May 4 that the agency and L.T. Associates in Lewes had reached an agreement for easements on the southern edge of the proposed Showfield housing project.

Bill Lingo, partner with L.T. Associates, said the new section of trail will cross Gills Neck Road at the northern edge of the Hawkseye housing development and run parallel along Bay Breeze and Breakwater developments to Freeman Highway. The trail will be separated by fencing from the developments.

Lingo also said new split-rail fencing is scheduled to be constructed along the section of trail that follows Gills Neck Road to Kings Highway.

DelDOT spokesman Geoff Sundstrom said as soon as all details with L.T. Associates are finalized, the planning phase of the project can begin. Construction could begin by the end of the year or early in 2013.

“This is clearly one of our highest priorities for safety considerations,” Sundstrom said. “It also achieves the goal of the trails program by creating a connection between communities. The connection between Lewes, Rehoboth and the state park is a perfect example.”

Planning money for the trail extension has already been allocated; construction money is included in Gov. Jack Markell's $10 million budget request for trail projects.

Junction and Breakwater Trail follows a section of the former Penn Central railroad between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach for approximately 6 miles. It is accessible from trailheads at Wolf Neck parking lot on Wolf Neck Road and Holland Glade parking lot behind Tanger Outlet Seaside. The first 3.6 miles of the trail in the Rehoboth Beach area opened in 2003 followed by another 2.4 miles of trail in 2007 to link Rehoboth Beach with Lewes.

Since then, as the popularity of the trail grew, residents along Gills Neck Road began to complain about the number of bicyclists using the road, once they left the trail, to ride into Lewes. Although the trail has a connection from Hawkseye to Kings Highway in front of Cape Henlopen High School, many trail users prefer the shorter route using Gills Neck Road, but that road is narrow with no shoulders.

Work on trail to Georgetown

DelDOT trail planners will begin engineering work this summer on the first phase of the proposed Georgetown to Lewes rail-trail for a section from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to Savannah Road.

Any work on the first phase of the trail would take place in spring 2014. The 17.8-mile trail would eventually link Georgetown with Cape Henlopen State Park.

In addition, state environmental planners are working toward a 1.1-mile extension of an existing trail to link Gordons Pond with Herring Point within Cape Henlopen State Park. Once that section is finished, the trail will complete a 25-mile loop - using the Junction and Breakwater Trail, trails within the park and existing roadways - between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.

Increased emphasis on trail work in 2012 can be tied to Senate Concurrent Resolution 13, signed by Gov. Jack Markell in July calling on DelDOT to come before the Bond Bill Committee every year and demonstrate what it is doing to link the communities of the state with hiking and biking trails.

More than $7 million was put in the Bond Bill this year for work on the state's trails.

(Source: Jen Elingsworth graphic)