Weeds and wildflowers on neglected trail

Weeds overtake the trail.

Weeds overtake the trail.

What if they built a trail and forgot to take care of it?

That is exactly what has happened along the first mile of the Junction and Breakwater Trail in Lewes.

Miscommunication between two state agencies, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Division of Parks and Recreation and Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), has resulted in a mess along Gill’s Neck Road.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why no one has complained about the condition of the trail. I sure did.

Telephone calls to the two agencies set off a chain-reaction of other calls. At first, it didn’t appear the left hand knew what the right hand was doing.

When DNREC stopped maintaining the 1-mile section, it assumed DelDOT would pick it up. It didn’t happen. The last time the grass was cut was sometime around Memorial Day.

Since then, weeds and wildflowers have overtaken the trail. Only two tracks, cut by walkers and bicyclists who frequent the link between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, remain between the underbrush.

At some point during the week, someone did cut grass along part of the trail.

Officials at the two agencies say the lines of communication are now open and the maintenance plan that was supposed to be in place will soon be a reality. No one is sure just when the trail will be restored.
Division of Parks and Recreation staff maintains the other four miles or so of the trail. DelDOT staff will be responsible for the section along Gill’s Neck Road.

The Junction and Breakwater Trail is a gem, and one of the few downstate trails provided for biking, running and walking.

Let’s hope the acronym agencies can get their acts together and take care of the trail in the manner it deserves.

Two tracks on the trail.

Two tracks on the trail.

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3 Responses to “Weeds and wildflowers on neglected trail”

  1. Dennis Forney Says:

    Right on Ron!

  2. Drew Murphy Says:

    Ron, while I applaud you for asking why no one at DNREC and DelDOT is taking responsibility for the trail that took so long in coming, I think you are missing the real issue with the trail. You ask why no one complained that it had not been mowed or maintained for months? The reason is because hardly anyone uses that section of the trail because it goes nowhere that anyone wants to go. That part of the trail leads AWAY from downtown Lewes – and stops way out on Kings Highway by the high school. No one I know biking all the way from Rehoboth wants to go to the high school. Just go out ot Gills Neck Road any weekend morning and see the stream of bicyclists coming off the trail from Rehoboth – when they hit Gills Neck Road, they turn right on Gills Neck, not left on the trail (even when it was maintained). So here we have dozens of people biking on Gills Neck into Lewes with no shoulder or bike path most of the way. It makes no sense. The money that would be spent on maintaining the portion of the trail you wrote about would be much better spent trying to widen the right of way on Gills Neck into town. That’s the way to really make Lewes a better place.

  3. Ron MacArthur Says:

    Drew, thanks for the comments. As an avid cyclist, who uses the trail from time to time when not on my road bike, I want to add a few thoughts to your comments.
    I totally agree that the section of Gills Neck Road you are writing about needs attention – it’s narrow, curvy and dangerous to cyclists. I’m on that section at least 3 days a week. But, there are more people using the neglected section of trail than you think. I use that section because I live on the other side of the tracks in Lewes near the high school. There has never been a time when I have not run into other people using the trail. Many people park at the high school and start their ride from there. You are correct – people from Rehoboth do not use that portion, but many others do. I write about DelDOT issues all the time and I doubt there is any money available to purchase rights of way along Gills Neck Road for bike lanes, although like you, I would love to see them. So in the interim, we need to have that section of trail maintained to keep people off Gills Neck Road for the same reasons you are concerned for the safety of cyclists on the other section.
    You are also right that it’s hard to understand why a trail would be built and bike riders would be dumped out onto a busy, narrow road to fend for themselves. I get that issue – believe me. I really think that the trail builders thought people would go in the other direction and use the shoulder on Kings Highway to get into Lewes.
    Thanks for comments. Sorry I went on so long, but this is a subject that is near and dear to me.

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