Residents of Ocean View, Bethany Beach and South Bethany now have a new nature trail to enjoy. State officials gathered Wednesday to open the brand new Assawoman Canal Trail in Ocean View.
It’s a mile-long trail that runs from Town Road, adjacent to Route 26, and runs northwest along the canal towards Whites Creek. The plan to build the trail was initially presented in 2011.
Sussex Cyclists vice president Michelle Williams says she looks forward to using the trail along with other members of the public. She notes that Route 26 that runs between Bethany and Ocean View is challenging to ride in because of heavy traffic.
“Unless you’re a very seasoned cyclist,  is a fairly dangerous street. And this gives people an opportunity to still be outdoors and ride their bike, but still in a safe way," said Williams,
State Sen. Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View) agrees the trail is important for getting joggers and bikers off of the busy Route 26, but Hocker is also challenging DelDOT to find a way to extend the trail under Route 26.
“I said when they first presented this [trail] there’s no way I can support pedestrians crossing 26. And I stick to that," said Hocker. "The way people drive on this road [I said] that it would be completely unsafe to allow that to happen. So to you members from DelDot, find a way for us to get under 26 and under this bridge so we can extend it.”
The trail, which is one of several projects conducted under Gov. Markell's State Pathways and Trails Initiative, accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists, and is open from 8 a.m. until sunset, seven days a week.
The project was funded by a nearly $800,000 grant from the Federal Recreational Trail program and a $170,000 grant from the State Trails and Pathways Initiative.
Earlier this year, Delaware was named the third most bike-friendly state in the country.