U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Tom Carper and U.S. Rep. John Carney today joined Governor Jack Markell, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Collin O'Mara, Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Shailen Bhatt and other federal, state and local leaders to announce plans and funding for construction of the first phase of an approximately 14-mile-long shared-use recreational trail along the north side of the C&D Canal, and that ground will be broken on the project next spring.
The first phase of the C&D Canal Recreation Trail, from Delaware City to just beyond Summit Marina, will create approximately nine miles of safe new recreational opportunities where people can hike, bicycle, jog, skate, bird-watch and ride horses. Other activities currently taking place at the canal include fishing, hunting and dog training.
"Developing a shared-use recreational trail along the C&D Canal will not only create a wonderful place for Delawareans to exercise and have fun, but will be a boon to local businesses," Senator Coons said. "Quite a few Delawareans, including former Congressman Mike Castle, have worked hard over the last seven years to create this greenway, and I'm pleased that today we're able to announce such a significant step forward in turning this idea into a reality. The C&D Canal is an amazing resource and I look forward to the day when my family and I can join others in safely exploring the beauty of the C&D Canal thanks to the new recreation trail."
"This recreational trail along the C&D Canal is a project that has been years in the making and is the vision of my good friend Mike Castle. To see it receive the funding it needs to make it a reality is exciting," Senator Carper said. "The trail will provide a no-cost, safe recreational opportunity in a scenic area that anyone can enjoy. In the long run, supporting projects like the C&D Canal Trail that promote healthy living will decrease our health care costs and save lives. That's just the type of win-win situation I envision now and years down the road."
"I'm excited that this recreation trail along the C&D Canal is now moving beyond the planning stages and into construction, which will create much needed jobs here in Delaware," Congressman Carney said. "This trail will allow more Delawareans to appreciate the beauty of this part of our state, while hiking, biking, or participating in other activities that make up a healthy and active lifestyle. I applaud the effort made by so many community members to make this project a reality, and look forward to its completion."
"As somebody who bicycles most of the length of the state each year, I know the incredible beauty Delaware has to offer, particularly when it's not just rolling past your car window. This trail offers a new way to see some of our natural beauty up-close. It gives local businesses a chance to connect with some of the new visitors the trail will bring and connects our state's recreation opportunities more closely together," Governor Markell said. "Our delegation, representatives in the federal government, and public officials throughout the state worked with each other to make this trail a reality, and I thank them for it."
"I'm delighted that Senator Coons, Senator Carper, Congressman Carney, and our state leaders are continuing to work on this wonderful project," former Congressman Castle said. "It has such great potential. The C&D Canal Recreation Trail means a lot to me and it was always disappointing that we weren't able to find the necessary federal funding sooner. This has been a true team effort and I'm excited that today we're taking this step forward together."
In the three years after a concept plan for the trail was developed in 2006, Delaware's Congressional delegation secured a total of $2.2 million in Public Lands Highways Discretionary awards from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to go toward planning and building the trail. Earlier this year, DNREC committed $1 million in state funding from the 2011 Bond Bill, and earlier this month, the project was awarded an additional $1 million from the FHWA. Combined, this $4.2 million in funding will enable construction of approximately nine miles of the north side of the trail, from Delaware City to just beyond Summit Marina, including parking and rest facilities, and connecting to existing recreation opportunities at Lums Pond State Park. Additional phases of the trail will be completed in the future.
"This is fantastic and exciting news for Delaware on so many levels," DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara said. "This new trail will create jobs, connect communities, get people outside and help improve the quality of life in Delaware. Trail related activities are the number one outdoor recreation activity in Delaware. We are so pleased to have this multi-use recreational trail become part of Delaware's trail network. I thank Delaware's congressional delegation, the Governor and our state legislators for making this possible."
"This project is just one more step towards Delaware's goal of becoming a model for multi-transportation initiatives across the country," DelDOT Secretary Bhatt said. "I look forward to working with our fellow agencies to help bring the C&D Canal Trail project to life, providing bicycle trails and recreational opportunities for so many in our state."
DelDOT will be responsible for construction of the trail along the canal, which is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With the plans complete and funds secured, DelDOT intends to offer bids for construction this fall, with groundbreaking of the project anticipated for spring 2012.
The C&D Canal has been in operation since 1829 and today it is one of the busiest working waterways in the world, with more than 25,000 vessels passing through it each year. The canal is a critical commercial waterway serving the Ports of Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia.