Offering more and safer pedestrian and bicycling opportunities for communities dotting a busy stretch of Route 1 in Sussex County proved a challenge for the Delaware Department of Transportation, especially as Route 1 serves as a main access roads for some of the most popular beach resorts in the state.
The key to the success of the 10-foot wide, 4.9-mile-long Phase II Georgetown to Lewes Trail project – extending from Savannah Road to Log Cabin Road, built along a state-owned former railroad corridor – is that it is completely separated from motor vehicle traffic. This multi-use hot-mix asphalt trail provides better alternative transportation and recreational opportunities for pedestrians and bicyclists alike but in a “low stress” environment. It also provides a much-needed grade-separated crossing of one of the state’s busiest roads, Route 1, as it offers an active transportation connection for communities on the western side of Route 1 with the amenities offered in the towns of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach located on the highway’s eastern side.
Since it opened in June 2019, the trail has proven to be one of the most popular in the state, averaging 743 users during weekdays, and more than 2,000 on weekends from June through October, typically the peak times for beach resort activity.
“The trail gives people the option of riding your bike to the store for bread or milk instead of getting into the car and worrying about traffic,” noted Ray Quillen, a local resident and bicycling advocate, in an April 2020 letter to the Delaware DOT. “The trail is scenic and pleasant and with lush green canopies and wetlands to view and it is pleasurable way to greet neighbors and strangers as you pass each other on the trail unlike riding in a car.”
Phase I of the trail project – opened in October 2016 – constructed a 1.1-mile trail from Gills Neck Road to Savannah Road in Lewes and also included a trailhead at the Lewes Public Library. Now work is underway on Phase III of the project, which, when complete, will extend the Georgetown to Lewes Trail by a total of 17 miles creating the single longest trail in Delaware.
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