New Castle County, Del. has received $23 million in federal dollars to construct a 2-mile ADA-accessible path, connecting the town of Newport, and the cities of Wilmington and New Castle.
Construction of the Newport River Trail will be funded with a grant from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which provides communities with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars to support transportation projects.
The trail will connect to a proposed 16-mile loop around the city of Wilmington. It’s part of an initiative to reduce traffic and pollution, and provide a safer way to travel for cyclists and pedestrians.
Proponents of the project say the trail also offers a more affordable alternative to driving, helping more people get to their jobs. Transportation is the second-largest household expense in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
“It can be a means of reducing car traffic, and it can be a means of reducing cost of living,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “Our people are spending a tremendously large percentage of their weekly, monthly, annual wage on car insurance and gas and the like.”
The Newport River Trail was first proposed in 2014, but the funding needed for the plan to come to fruition was out of reach. The price tag for construction was about more than a quarter of what the county collects annually from property taxes, Meyer said.
The trail, which will run alongside wetlands and the Christina River, will start at South James Street and connect to the Jack A. Markell Trail under the Interstate 95 overpass.
“It’s going to be great for recreation, but it’s also part of this bigger vision of creating a transportation system where everybody feels safe and is safe just to get on their bikes and go where they want to go,” said James Wilson, executive director of Bike Delaware.
He said he hopes in the future there will be continuous trails between Wilmington and Newark, which is about 13 miles south.
This is the second RAISE grant Delaware has received this year. In June, the state received $21 million dollars for a 17-mile path connecting Georgetown and Lewes in Sussex County.
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