The Jack A. Markell bike trail officially opened Wednesday with a ribbon cutting at the Dupont Environmental Center on the Wilmington Riverfront.
Cyclists, walkers and runners can now get from the Wilmington Riverfront to Historic New Castle via the long-awaited Markell bike trail.
The nearly eight-mile, multi-modal trail incorporates the pre-existing Industrial Track Trail and Heritage Trail.
The final segment built over the last two years adds a new wooden bike and pedestrian bridge over the Christina River— and raised boardwalks at the Russell W. Peterson Wildlife Refuge.
Venu Gaddamidi owns a small craft liquor store at the Riverfront, and is a cyclist.
“For me, whenever I want to riding I go to Philadelphia. So that’s like a 30, 45 minute ride and set-up and all that,” he said. “So having this down here allows us to ride from here and we can pretty much get all the way down to Delaware City, so I believe that’s about a 50-mile ride that we can do, safely.”
Gaddamidi adds he hopes the new trail will bring more foot traffic for Riverfront businesses like his.
The project received roughly $25 million of federal, state, and local funding over several phases since 2009. According to DNREC officials, the state now has 565 miles of pathways and trails.
Gov. John Carney says he thinks projects like the trail are good for the state’s broader economy.
“I think about what it takes to out-compete those other places. To make Delaware better, more attractive, more appealing. And it boils down to one thing for me— you’ve got to have cool stuff,” he said. “And this is cool stuff.”
Other state officials touted anticipated environmental and health benefits of the trail— which is being billed as an option for commuters.
They also thanked legislators, advocates and state agency staff for making the long-awaited trail a reality.
The trail is named for former Gov. Markell, a avid cyclist who made building up the state’s trail system a priority during his two terms in office.