In Gov. Jack Markell’s State of the State address, he proposed appropriating $13 million to build “miles of new and enhanced trails throughout our state,” in an effort to make Delaware one of the most walkable and bikeable states in the country.
The governor addressed a packed room of attendees at the Walkable Bikeable Delaware: Quality of Life, Economic Development and Health Promotion half-day conference at the Biggs Museum in Dover, Thursday.
“We recognize, first of all, it’s a significant use of taxpayer money,” said Gov. Markell. “The more the people get outside, get active is better for their health, is better for them, is better for the rest of us so that we’re not paying for their healthcare… it’s great for our environment… it’s also great in terms of job recruitment, job retention.”
The Senate Concurrent Resolution, unanimously passed last year, directed DelDOT to expand its efforts to create a network of walkways and bikeways within and between cities throughout Delaware; existing and several proposed trails were unveiled at today’s conference.
“I’d say there are four really, really tremendously exciting projects. Two in New Castle County and one in each, in Kent and Sussex,” said James Wilson, Executive Director of Bike Delaware, a nonprofit that advocates for more and better bicycling in the state.
The governor says some actual construction has already begun through funding from previous years, but says right now the state is still in the process of design and detail planning.
Among those in attendance today, the Secretaries of Delaware Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The agencies are collaborating with the governor on his initiative.
Meantime, state budget hearings resume May 21, according to the legislative calendar.