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New Castle County aims to connect trails, enable bike commuting

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Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
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Delaware Greenways presents a check to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer for a trail connection feasibility study

New Castle County is launching an initiative to make biking and walking trails more practical for commuting.

Officials say they’ve secured funding for feasibility studies on connecting several existing bike and pedestrian trails. The county hopes to eventually build 12 connections.

County Executive Matt Meyer says a strong trail network boosts economic development by raising property values and helping attract big employers.

“Safer and healthier communities are also wealthier communities,” he said.

James Wilson is director of Bike Delaware and member of DelDOT’s Delaware Bike Council. He notes when families save money on transportation, they can spend that money at local businesses.

“We don’t manufacture any cars in Delaware anymore and we don’t drill for any oil. So all that money that we’re spending, that all leaves our economy,” he said.

Last week, Wilson announced a $20,000 contribution from the Bike Council for the Newport Connector trail feasibility study. This trail would link the new Jack A. Markell trail to the Town of Newport, following the Amtrak right-of-way.

Newport-based Harvey Hanna & Associates is a among the Connecting Communities initiative’s partners.

Thomas Harvey IV deals with leasing the company’s commercial properties, and says employee transportation options play a role in where companies choose to locate.

“The Connecting Communities initiative is a natural tie-in to some of the future developments taking shape in the greater Newport area right now including the redevelopment of the former Boxwood General Motors plant on as well as our planned downtown Newport redevelopment,” said Harvey.

A feasibility study is already underway for the Augustine Cut-Off connector, which would link Wilmington and Brandywine Hundred.

Delaware Greenways last week announced a $30,000 grant through the William Penn Foundation to fund a feasibility study for another connector trail which would link the new Jack A. Markell Trail to Corporate Commons in New Castle.

 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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