Rail Trail reintroduced, additions improve safety
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 02:09
More than a year after construction began, community members celebrated the grand opening of the Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail on Sept. 10.
According to the press release, the two-mile long route is a major part of Gov. Jack Markell’s (D-Del.) “First State Trails and Path Initiative.” Markell wanted accessible bicycle and user-friendly paths available to the residents of Newark.
“The only reason we were able to make improvements in bike trails is because of [the community’s] advocacy,” Markell said.
The footpath’s completion marks the first time federal funding from Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funded a cycling project. CMAQ combined their efforts with $4.7 million from the Federal Highway Administration to fund the project while the Department of Transportation funded the rights for the trail around 2006 for $2.6 million.
Construction began in August of 2011, adding paved paths, crosswalks, stop signs, emergency call boxes and lighted pathways.
Collin O’Mara, the cabinet secretary for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said she was pleased with the completed project.
“[The trail] is functionally and aesthetically beautiful,” O’Mara said. “It will serve one million people within 20 miles.”
According to Markell, benefits of the route will include combating obesity and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
During his opening remarks Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said the path is a fun way for residents to stay active because of its connection with more than 75 miles of other footpaths, from the James F. Hall Trail to White Clay Creek.
“One great thing about the trail is that it brings out the kid in all of us,” Carper said. “It’s a good opportunity, to go out and just do it.”
He said another benefit of the pathway is an increased sense of community. Since the trail connects major areas of Newark such as Main Street, Laird Campus and the Newark Shopping Center, communication among the people of Newark will increase, which will help the stores gain revenue.
Eric Bosques, a freshman student at Delaware Technical Community College, said the route will increase sales at Newark companies.
“I use [the trail] to exercise and also use to run errands around town,” Bosques said.
Newark residents Jennifer Myers and Chip Kneavel, along with five-month-old Magnolia Jane Kneavel, also attended the opening ceremony.
Kneavel said he hoped to take advantage of the new renovations to the pathway, which he visits at least once or twice a season. He said he believes the improvements will encourage people to be more active.