Capital Trail project offers up another piece of the puzzle

 

Andrew Haller, of Century Engineering, points out some aspects of the proposed Capital City Trail from the Gateway South Shopping Center to South State Street to interested members of the public at the Calvary Community Center on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Transportation is continuing to work on filling in gaps that still exist in the Capital City Trail that it hopes will eventually combine to form a 14-mile bicycling/pedestrian loop around Dover.

Officials from Century Engineering, a firm hired by DelDOT, met with the public on Thursday afternoon at the Calvary Community Center off Del. 10 to discuss plans for the latest link of the trail, which is proposed to run from the Gateway South Shopping Center to South State Street.

Jon Hermes, from Century Engineering, said the plan has received mixed reaction, but added that he expected that, especially from homeowners along the path’s route.

“We’ve received mix reaction,” Mr. Hermes said. “People who are potentially users of the trail are very favorable and are looking forward to it, and the people who will have the trail in front of their properties are not as excited about it. They have some concerns.

“This is one segment of what eventually will be a 14-mile loop that will connect to downtown Dover, to Schutte Park, to Brecknock Park, over to the Hunn property (now a Kent County park that sits behind the Gateway South Shopping Center).”

The proposed Gateway South to South State Street section of the trail is envisioned to be a 10-foot-wide hot-mix pathway along the south side of Del. 10 (East Lebanon Road).

Century Engineering said that it plans to install a three-foot grass buffer between trail and existing shoulder, where it’s possible, and will replace existing curbing along the trail. Curb ramps and crosswalks will be ADA compliant.

Utility poles, street lights and drainage inlets are expected to remain in place, wherever possible, and transit facilities will remain at current locations.

Mr. Hermes said that if the nearly $3 million project receives the proper approval and funding that construction could begin next spring and would be finished by the end of the year.

It’s not exactly the news that many homeowners that could eventually become neighbors to the trail want to hear.

“I’m ambivalent right now,” said Yvonne Stringfield, who lives in the Twelve Oaks development off Del. 10. “I see the need, but I’m looking at the impact on everyone that lives along the trail. Right now, I don’t have a buffer.

“I’m always concerned about foot traffic anyway as it is and I’m saying to myself, ‘Foot traffic is going to be closer to me than it is now?,’ and I have trash blowing in my yard as it is that I have to go out periodically to pick up and what more can I expect? I was told they weren’t going to put a fence there (between the neighborhood and the trail) and that is problematic.”

Some other homeowners in the area who wished to remain anonymous complained that they bought houses in the area to live in the country and now “the city is coming right to their front doors.” Others were concerned about the impact the trail would have to their properties.

Ms. Stringfield said she was happy that DelDOT scheduled the meeting so the community could voice their concerns, but she is hoping they listen to their problems and take them into account.

“So far, I’m satisfied with the answers since those are the answers and I have nothing to be but satisfied,” she said. “I probably won’t get to hear what I would like to hear, but they’re not going to do it. I’m just concerned about the safety with foot traffic.”

Joe Liberto, whose family owns the Liberto Plaza off Del. 10, had no opposition at all to the Capital City Trail project.

“I love it. I like the pursuit to give people exercise,” Mr. Liberto said. “I’m a cyclist, so I like the cycling trails. It gives us a place to ride or walk. The will connect with the trails and connect with the parks, so I think it’s a fantastic thing.

“New Castle has things like this, Sussex County has things like this and now Kent County can have it, too.

“Families can ride together and feel safe. Before this my family wouldn’t ride on the shoulder of the road, so this is nice, and I think this area needs stuff like that.”

Proponents of the Capital City Trail say that it supports a healthy lifestyle and promotes the continued growth of recreational and tourism industries in the Dover area.

The trail also highlights the historic features in the downtown area while providing easy access to transit and other regional trails, such as the new three-mile pathway that runs alongside the POW/MIA Parkway that opened last September between Dover and Camden.

That pathway created a connection between Schutte Park, the Kent County Recreation Center and Brecknock Park for cyclists and pedestrians.

Now, DelDOT is working to give southeast Dover its spot in the Capital City Trail loop.

“This is just another segment of building that so that you can have a recreational, low-stress, off-road facility where people can ride recreationally or to get to businesses or parks,” Mr. Hermes said. “Hopefully, by the end of 2019, it will be done.”

 

Capital City Trail, Gateway to South State Street
Interested persons are invited to express their views in writing, giving reasons for, or in opposition to, the proposed project. Comments can be mailed to DelDOT Community Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903 or sent via email to dotpr@state.de.us.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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