The much anticipated Branch Canal Trail connecting Delaware City to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is officially open.
Many members of the community, along with elected officials, were on hand to take part in Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in Delaware City.
The hiking and biking trail links Delaware City’s Canalfront Promenade to the Mike Castle Trail that stretches along the north bank of the C&D Canal.
The project also included construction of the historical African Union Church cemetery overlook, which was a focal point in the construction process. The African Union Church Cemetery is the historical element for the trail. It’s the burial ground of African-American troops who served for the Union in the Civil War.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell praised state legislators for valuing what’s important to the members of the Delaware community.
“It really helps a lot to have legislators who understand the value of investments in quality of life,” Markell said. “I love to cycle, I love to hike, and I like to do it because it’s good for my physical and mental health, but that’s true for people throughout our state.”
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, said the 9-mile trail’s popularity has grown exponentially since it first opened.
“Just a couple weeks ago I went out on the trail late on a Saturday and the amount of people who have started to come to the trail and recognize the trail is amazing,” she said. “I’m seeing families with children on their scooters and on their bikes, I’m seeing people fishing, I’m seeing older couples on their bikes and riding together. It’s such a great family trail for this district.”
William McGowan, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development Director, stressed how state funds for this project would not have existed if it weren’t for the support from the community and the work put forth from Delaware’s Congressional Delegation.
“Funds do not come to Delaware without the support and the major emphasis from our Congressional Delegation,” McGowan explained. “So you’ve got Senator [Chris] Coons, Senator [Tom] Carper, and Congressman [John] Carney. So we are part of their work to get dollars back into Delaware.”