Governor Carney, DNREC, DelDOT and partners break ground for saltmarsh boardwalk project at Slaughter Beach

SLAUGHTER BEACH – This morning, Delaware Governor John Carney joined DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, state legislators, conservation partners, and the community of Slaughter Beach to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve Boardwalk project. The boardwalk and overlook will enable visitors, including schoolchildren, to walk out onto the saltmarsh to view and experience this amazing Bayshore ecosystem and its natural resources up close.

Photo: Governor John Carney, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, Slaughter Beach Mayor Harry Ward, Federal Highway Administration Division Administrator Mary Ridgeway, Delaware Nature Society Acting Executive Director Anne Harper and DNS members, state legislators, Marvel family members, and residents break ground for the Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve Boardwalk.

“The scenic overlook that we are building here will provide a new opportunity to enjoy this saltmarsh landscape and a diverse array of wildlife year round,” said Governor Carney. “This project will help Delawareans, and visitors to our state, discover our state’s rich history and natural heritage, as well as the Bayshore’s natural beauty.”

“This project is a major enhancement to a premier destination in our Bayshore region, giving visitors unique access to a new outdoor recreation opportunity,” said Secretary Garvin. “Visitors also will have the opportunity to learn about our dynamic coastal marsh systems, the plants and animals they support, and the coastal communities like Slaughter Beach that depend on them.”

“DelDOT is pleased to partner with DNREC and the Town of Slaughter Beach in the construction of a scenic overlook along the Delaware Nature Society’s Marvel tract,” said Secretary Cohan. “This overlook will be another great addition to the Delaware Bayshore Byway that showcases our beautiful state.”

Owned and managed by the Delaware Nature Society, the 109-acre Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve was donated to DNS in 1988 by the Marvel family of Milford – Randy and Linda Marvel, and Harvey and Kate Marvel, who attended today’s event. The preserve is home to many species, including fiddler crabs, blue crabs, grass shrimp, mollusks, and insects, as well as being a premier birding destination, with marsh wrens, seaside sparrows, clapper rails, great egrets, willets, and osprey. The Y-shaped, accessible boardwalk design, totaling approximately 345 feet, will provide access to a marsh pool at one end and a view of a nearby constructed osprey nest platform from an elevated observation platform at the other end. The boardwalk will enhance the environmental education programs DNS hosts for more than 1,000 students and families annually at the preserve.

The Marvel Saltmarsh Preserve scenic overlook project was made possible by a partnership between DNREC, DelDOT, DNS, and the Town of Slaughter Beach, with funding for design, engineering, and construction coming from multiple sources. Initial design and engineering funding was provided through a grant from DNREC’s Outdoor Recreation Parks and Trails grant program, with additional funding from DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative. Project construction funding is from the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration via DelDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, which requires matching funds from a sponsor. With a long-term land lease between DNS and the town in place, Slaughter Beach is serving as the match sponsor, with a second grant from DNREC’s Outdoor Recreation Parks and Trails grant program. State Senator Gary Simpson and State Representative Harvey Kenton provided additional state funding from the Community Transportation Fund. The Delaware Nature Society also assisted and supported Slaughter Beach’s fundraising efforts by acquiring additional funds from the Delmarva Ornithological Society, Milford Lions Club, and Dogfish Head Brewery.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


DelDOT Cuts Ribbon on Brecknock Connector Trail

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and local leaders cut the ribbon on the Brecknock Connector Trail in Camden on Wednesday, October 3, 2018.

The project not only created a path between existing trails in Brecknock Park and the POW/MIA Parkway, it also brought an existing pedestrian bridge along Route 13 up to Americans with Disabilities Act Standards.

George & Lynch, a Dover-based contractor, constructed the trail at a cost of $666,000. Eighty percent of the project’s costs were from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

“DelDOT is pleased to have completed another link in the Capital City Trail Loop, a 15-mile system of trails that enables bicyclists and pedestrians to travel freely between Dover and Camden,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan. “We are proud to work with our local and federal partners to make Delaware a more walkable and bikeable state.”

Delaware now has more than 500 miles of pedestrian and bike trails throughout the state.


Jack A. Markell Trail Connecting Wilmington to New Castle Opens

Delaware’s Congressional delegation, Governor John Carney, former Governor Jack Markell, State Representative Valerie Longhurst, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, and other state and local officials gathered on Wednesday at the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, to open the new 7.9-mile trail named after former Governor Jack Markell.

The new trail links Wilmington’s Riverfront to historic Old New Castle, and connects to a 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway that traverses Maine to Florida. The trail includes a 300 foot-long pedestrian/bicycle crossing over the Christiana River and an elevated 2,300 foot-long boardwalk through the Peterson Wildlife Refuge with paved pathways. The elevated boardwalk section is the largest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the state.

The trail was dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the “Jack A. Markell Trail,” in honor of the former First State’s Governor, who spearheaded the dramatic expansion of bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways throughout Delaware during his two terms in office.

“Today’s groundbreaking on the final phase of this trail that connects the beautiful Wilmington Riverfront to Historic Old New Castle is a part of a national trail that reaches across more than 3,000 miles of our country,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Governor Markell’s hard work and dedication to creating a more walkable, bikeable Delaware can be seen in the great trails we have that span our state from Wilmington to the Bayshore. It’s a lasting legacy that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

“I am proud to have had a small part in establishing this track, when I served as New Castle County Executive, and I am equally pleased this trail will be named for Governor Markell, recognizing his championing of accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, and his vision for connecting all of Delaware through trails and greenways,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons.

“This exciting project further connects the communities of Wilmington and New Castle,” said Governor John Carney. “It provides more opportunities for walkers and cyclists to enjoy a beautiful part of our state. It gives those living near the trail another option for their morning commute. And, it finalizes a critical link that incorporates Delaware into a vast network of trails in our region and along the East Coast. None of this would have been possible without the vision and leadership of Governor Markell and his Trails and Pathways Initiative. Naming this trail in his honor is a fitting recognition of his efforts to promote healthier living, increase tourism, and bring together towns and communities in our state. I’m looking forward to its opening, and I know the Governor will be one of the first ones out here to ride it.”

“I’m thrilled that we’re opening this trail, which establishes a critical new link within our state’s trail network and the East Coast greenway,” said former Governor Jack Markell. “Dozens of miles of new trails and pathways have been constructed to more fully integrate our hundreds of miles of existing routes into a world-class regional trail network. Doing so strengthens the quality of life of people in our state, while helping attract more people to live and work here.”

“Governor Markell has done more to advance the idea of a walkable, bikeable Delaware than any other elected official, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s simply a fact,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, an avid cyclist who has biked with the Governor on several occasions. “During his time in office, Governor Markell has proposed, fought for, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars in funding for Delaware to invest in cycling and pedestrian trails up and down the state. As a result of many of these improvements, we’ve seen Delaware’s ranking by the League of American Bicyclists climb from 31st in 2008, to 18th in 2011, all the way up to 3rd last year. Thanks to Governor Markell, Delawareans and visitors to our state have an unprecedented opportunity to see our state as never before.”

“Thanks to Governor Markell, this trail – and many others already completed under his visionary First State Trails and Pathways Initiative – will continue to link people with opportunities for health, education, recreation and employment for decades to come,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

“It is appropriate that we name our newest trail in Delaware after Governor Jack Markell,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We continue to realize his vision to build a world-class trail network across the state that enhances recreational options for residents and visitors, provides alternative transportation routes, and benefits the environment. We are connecting more residents and visitors to the outdoors, and it is a wonderful legacy for our current and future generations.”

The $22.5 million project was completed by JJID Inc. of Bear.

For further information visit www.deldot.gov, or contact DelDOT Community Relations at 1-800-652-5600 or 302-760-2080, or contact DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.


DelDOT and City of Dover Mark Completion of West Street Trail

Above: Secretary Cohan and local officials prepare to cut the ribbon on the newly completed West Street Trail in Dover Friday.

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and the City of Dover cut the ribbon for the newly completed West Street Trail in Dover on Friday. The West Street Trail is an ADA-accessible route for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel through Dover and connect with the Dover Transit Center on Queen Street.

The $400,000 trail includes an 8-to-10-foot-wide multi-use path that runs along South West Street, between West Water Street and West North Street. Along West North Street, the trail includes a 5-foot-wide sidewalk. The project added a concrete pedestrian refuge in the island at the intersection. Improved drainage and a safer railroad crossing were also part of the project. The total length of the trail is about three tenths of a mile long.

Eighty percent of the project’s cost was paid by federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds, which support projects that reduce traffic and air pollution. Twenty percent of the project’s cost was borne by DelDOT’s capital budget.

“The completion of the West Street trail is another important link in the transportation network within the City of Dover. It connects many of the city’s residents with the Dover Transit Center, where thousands each month connect to DART service throughout the state,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan. “By enabling more people to travel without their own vehicles, projects like the West Street Trail reduce traffic congestion and pollution.”

The West Street Trail was championed by the City of Dover and its bicycle and pedestrian subcommittee. It was laid out in Dover Pedestrian Improvements Master Plan.

“Since my first bicycle as a child it has afforded me many hours of pleasure and freedom. It has given me the opportunity, then and now, to explore places not easily accessed by automobiles,” said Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen. “Today, the City of Dover has partnered with the State of Delaware to bring that freedom back safely to all of our citizens. Bicycling affords each of us the opportunity to experience once again, whether we are 8 or 80, that freedom and sense of adventure.”

“The City of Dover through our Bicycling and Pedestrian Subcommittee has enjoyed a fabulous relationship with DelDOT advancing numerous projects in the past few years,” said James Hutchison, chairman of the city’s bicycle and pedestrian subcommittee. “We truly support the efforts of not only closing the gaps in the bicycle/pedestrian network within Dover, but also to connect trail systems that offer users safe routes for cycling and pedestrianized travel by connecting to pathways leading out of the city limits. We very much appreciate the opportunity to have been involved in this project!”

“The West Street Trail is a small project, but it is an important one because it connects Dover’s growing low-stress bicycle network to the Dover Transit Center. That’s an example of connecting the modes at the nodes – where we increase the utility of both our bicycle and our transit networks by making sure they fit seamlessly together,” said James Wilson, Bike Delaware executive director.

Reybold Construction, based in Bear, constructed the trail, beginning in April 2018.


Opening of trails along C&D Canal celebrated by Delaware, Maryland officials

Mark completion of the continuous trail that includes Michael N. Castle and Branch Canal Trails in Delaware, and the Ben Cardin Trail in Maryland

DELAWARE CITY – The grand opening of recreational trails along the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal was celebrated today by Delaware and Maryland officials who included Governor Jack Markell, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, USDA Rural Development State Director Bill McGowan, DNREC Secretary David Small, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, Delaware State Senator Nicole Poore, Delaware City Mayor Stanley Green and Chesapeake City Mayor Dean Geracimos. They were joined by other officials, scores of trails partners and enthusiasts, and special guest, former Delaware Governor and Congressman Michael N. Castle.

Trails Opening Celebration
Guest of honor and trail namesake Michael N. Castle (second from right), former Delaware governor and congressman, joined with Gov. Markell and US Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper, along with DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan and DNREC Secretary David Small, to celebrate the grand opening of recreational trails along the C&D Canal. /DNREC photo

The event marked the completion of the 14.3-mile continuous trail that includes the Michael N. Castle and Branch Canal Trails in Delaware and the Ben Cardin Trail in Maryland. The Castle and Cardin Trails run along the north bank of the C&D Canal and meet at the state line, while the Branch Canal Trail connects the Castle Trail to Delaware City’s Canalfront Promenade. The entire trail connects travelers to the historic towns of Delaware City, Del. and Chesapeake City, Md.

The trails in Delaware are part of the Gov. Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative that expands a statewide network of new and enhanced trails and pathways for walking, biking, hiking and active living. Delaware’s trails promote the growth of the recreation and tourism industries, enable people to connect with the outdoors and improve the quality of life for all Delawareans.

“The opening of the recreational trails along the C&D Canal marks another great milestone in expanding Delaware’s trail network of more than 571 miles of trails,” said Gov. Markell. “Building the trails linking two historic cities was a tremendous collaboration among state, federal and city partners. With the trails now completed, more residents and visitors will be drawn to the wonderful amenities that Delaware City and Chesapeake City have to offer, expanding tourism and boosting the local economies. As a cyclist, the Michael Castle Trail with its natural, scenic beauty along the C&D Canal is one of my favorite trails to ride.”

“This project has had 360 degrees of support – receiving funding on the federal, state and local level,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “The trail provides a great opportunity for anyone to walk, run, bike, bird-watch, fish, and ride horseback in a scenic area. As our nation’s health care costs rise, projects like these that support healthy lifestyle choices are increasingly important.”

“This is an exciting time for cyclists, walkers, joggers, and anyone who enjoys the outdoors,” said Sen. Coons. “Completing the trail on the north side of the C&D Canal has been a terrific group effort of federal, state and local agencies. I am delighted that the completed Castle and Cardin Trails will attract more visitors and encourage more families to get outdoors and enjoy this resource that connects two great small towns, Delaware City and Chesapeake City.”

“I am proud of the legacy we are leaving to the residents of Maryland, Delaware and the region. We want people to enjoy their communities and feel connected to the outdoors and to others,” said Maryland U.S. Senator Ben Cardin. This project will allow people to gain a greater appreciation of the history and future of this region, while also staying healthy. It is also an important economic driver, helping the small businesses in towns along the trail attract tourism dollars and thrive.”

“Undoubtedly, according to the many dozens of people who have spoken to me, this trail has proven to be a great addition to enjoying the outdoors along the C & D Canal. The bipartisan cooperation of elected and appointed officials at all levels of government over the years has made this possible. I remember vividly our visit to the Cape Cod Canal Trail in 2004 which incentivized us to move ahead with our project. There are many people who should be individually singled out and thanked, but I genuinely believe we would not have completed this project without the enthusiastic and persistent effort of Jeff Dayton, who served on my staff and later with Senator Carper and was so helpful in bringing all of us together to make this project a reality.”

The property along the north and south banks of the C&D Canal is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased under a long-term agreement to the States of Delaware and Maryland. In Delaware most of the 5,178 acres is managed by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife as the C&D Canal Conservation Area. A small portion, including Fort DuPont, is administered by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation, which also operates nearby Fort Delaware and Lums Pond State Parks. In Maryland the property is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“As the federal agency entrusted with stewardship of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, we are glad for the recreational opportunities this trail provides for the canal’s ultimate owners – the American people”, said Lt. Col. Michael Bliss, Philadelphia District Commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and operates the canal as a shipping channel.

Abundant wildlife and scenic views along the C&D Canal made the area a perfect location for a multi-use trail that provides recreational opportunities for pedestrians, bicyclists, anglers, equestrians, bird-watchers and nature enthusiasts. Trail users can view wildlife, such as deer, turkeys and raccoons, along with rarer species, that include peregrine falcons, pied-billed grebes, and bald eagles as they travel along the banks of canal and past the area’s grasslands, forests, tidal marshes and ponds.

Michael N. Castle Trail: 12.1-mile trail in Delaware

Michael N. Castle Trail
An overhead view of the Michael N. Castle Trail on the C&D Canal facing the Summit Bridge toward Delaware City. /DNREC photo

The Michael N. Castle Trail was named in Oct. 2013 for the politician who served Delaware for nearly 40 years as state legislator, lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. congressman. While serving in Congress, Castle helped initiate a trail project along the canal in 2004, when constituents came to him with better ways to use the area around the canal. The project was approved in 2005, however construction did not begin until mid-2012.

“Thanks to Congressman Castle and Governor Markell’s ‘First State Trails and Pathways Initiative,’ the Michael N. Castle Trail provides the opportunity for Delawareans to walk or cycle along the picturesque path linking the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan. “This trail and the more than 500 miles of public trails and multi-use pathways within Delaware, including the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail and the Jack A. Markell Trail, currently under construction, provide safe and enjoyable experiences for cyclists and hikers alike.”

“The Michael N. Castle Trail is one of Delaware’s ultimate destinations for outstanding recreational opportunities for hikers, runners, cyclists and equestrian enthusiasts,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “Within 20 miles of the C&D Canal, there are more than 700,000 Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey residents who have the opportunity to discover one of the most unique and scenic trails in the country. This trail, like the other trails throughout Delaware, contributes to our appreciation and stewardship of nature and the environment and will certainly continue to be enjoyed by generations to come.”

The Trail includes 12.1 miles of paved surface, three trailheads located at Biddle’s Point, St. Georges and South Lums Pond, and site amenities, including benches and kiosk comfort stations. Attractive landscaping was added and trail counters installed that measure trail usage. More than 100,000 people annually have used this trail since it was partially opened in 2013.

“It’s rare that a singular project can mean so much for a community,” said Senate Majority Whip Nicole Poore, D-Barbs Farm. “From helping people stay healthy, to improving the economy of Delaware City, to giving people a close up view of one of our state’s defining characteristics, this trail is a fantastic resource for the 12th District and for all of Delaware.”

DelDOT managed the construction of the trail. Project design and constructed costs totaling $10.2 million were funded with 80 percent federal funds through the Federal Highway Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and with 20 percent state bond bill appropriations to DelDOT and DNREC. The trail was designed by Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), and constructed by Daisy Construction Company of Newport, Del. and Grassbusters Landscaping Co. of Newark, Del. With construction now completed, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife will manage and patrol the trail.

Ben Cardin Recreational Trail in Maryland: 1.8-mile trail to Chesapeake City

The 1.8-mile Ben Cardin Recreational Trail along the C&D Canal was named for Senator Cardin who served the State of Maryland for nearly 50 years and assisted the town of Chesapeake City with many initiatives throughout the years. The paved, shared-use recreational trail provides visitors with spectacular views of the C&D Canal and wonderful opportunities for hiking, biking and fishing.

“The completion of the last section of the Canal Trail provides vital recreational opportunities for hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and birders and ultimately transforms the region into a destination for recreation enthusiasts,” said Chesapeake City Mayor Dean Geracimos. “However, it’s more than just a recreational trail, it’s an economic development driver that has already created new businesses in Chesapeake City. We’re extremely excited about the new ferry service that starts up in mid-April and will transport pedestrians and bicycles from the ferry dock along the trail to the south side of town and vice versa.”

Trail amenities include landscaping beds, benches, dog waste stations, a fishing dock and a volunteer trail master, Buddy Shephard. Visitors can access the trail in Chesapeake City at the trailhead by the town dock, located at the base of Lock Street. Parking is located under the Chesapeake City Bridge.

Chesapeake City and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed the construction of the trail. The project, totaling $2 million, was funded through the Federal Highway Administration’s Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program. Trail construction was completed by Ahtna Corporation.

For more information on the Ben Cardin Recreation Trail, visit the Chesapeake City website.

Branch Canal Trail: 0.4-mile trail linking the Castle Trail to Delaware City

The Branch Canal Trail provides a key link to the Michael N. Castle Trail, connecting hikers and cyclists using the Castle Trail with local businesses and historic and natural treasurers located in and around Delaware City. The Trail was built over the 1920’s-era C&D towpath located next to the open water of the Branch Canal. The Trail was elevated and a bridge installed over marshy areas, and a 9.6-acre tidal wetland was created adjacent to the trail. The trail provides access to a recently-restored, important piece of Delaware history – the African Union Church Cemetery, the burial place of five members of the U.S. Colored Troops who served bravely for the Union in the Civil War.

“It is with a great deal of excitement that we celebrate the opening of the trail from Delaware City, Delaware to Chesapeake City, Maryland. With much anticipation the public now has 14.3-mile trail with one of the most beautiful vistas in the region,” said Delaware City Mayor Stanley Green. ”Delaware City is proud to have played a small part in connecting to the other trails that will be used by walkers, runners and bicyclist for years to come. I extend our thanks to all of the many people who had the vision for this project, especially those who brought this project to its completion.”

“There is no question that tourism is a driving force in economic growth,” said Dr. Bill McGowan, USDA Rural Development State Director. “The USDA-funded trailhead connector provides accessibility for trail users to safely cross the marshy branch from the Mike Castle Trail into beautiful Delaware City, a town rapidly becoming a destination for its welcoming downtown and amazing location on the Delaware River.”

The construction of the Branch Canal Trail was managed by New Castle Conservation District. Trail design was completed by AECOM of Newark, Del., with construction by Eastern States Construction of Wilmington, Del. Design and construction costs totaling $2.4 million were funded by grants and contributions to Delaware City and New Castle Conservation District from DNREC’s Community Environmental Project Fund, Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Trails Grant Program, state bond bill appropriations and settlement and penalty funds, resulting from environmental violations, and from funds provided by the Delaware-Maryland USDA Rural Development Agency in Dover. In June 2016 the trail was dedicated at an event hosted by Delaware City.

For more information on Delaware City, Delaware and the Branch Canal Trail, visit the Delaware City website.

The First State Trails and Pathways Initiative is a partnership led by the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Department of Transportation with regional and local organization and government partners. For more information, visit trails.delaware.gov.

Media Contacts
DNREC: Melanie Rapp, Public Affairs, 302-739-9902; Melanie.Rapp@delaware.gov
DELDOT: Bud Freel, 302-577-5100; Bud.Freel@delaware.gov
Delaware City: Richard Cathcart, Delaware City Manager, rcathcart@ci.delaware-city.de.us; 302-547-2133
Chesapeake City: Tonya Lockwood, Billing Clerk, 410-885-5298; t.lockwood@chesapeakecity-md-gov

Vol. 47, No. 13