$22.5 million Markell bike-hike trail opens

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The $22.5 million, 7.9-mile Jack A. Markell Trail was dedicated last week.

The bicycle/ pedestrian trail is named in honor of the former governor who championed the project that links the Wilmington Riverfront area with Old New Castle.

The trail is also connected to the 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway that runs fromMaine to Florida.

The contractor for the project was JJD of Bear.

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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 in the Wilmington Riverfront area. The elevated boardwalk section is the largest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the state.

“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. Sen. Tom Carper, who has pushed for trails in the sate “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’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 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.”

After serving two terms, Markell embarked on a cross-country bicycle ride.

The trail’s price tag has generated some criticism among motorists who have battled potholes and congestion from long-running projects along Route 141 in the New Castle area.

Supporters have pointed to the health benefits of walking and bicycling as well as a desire for amenities by residents who do not want to dodge traffic when riding. The trail could also encourage more commuting by bicycle as a trail system expands.

Northern Delaware is also the home of the Michael Castle C&D Trail, which runs along the C&D Canal to Delaware City.

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