Jack A. Markell Trail. New Castle, Delaware.
The Markell Trail, formerly known as the New Castle Industrial Track Trail, is a critical link in the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway connecting Maine and Florida. The project consists of converting an abandoned freight rail line to a shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path. When complete, the seven-mile Trail will provide an active transportation link between New Castle and downtown Wilmington with only two at-grade road crossings. In addition to assisting DelDOT with oversight of the entire program, WRA designed two phases of the trail. Phase 1’s ARRA funding requirements dictated an extreme fast-track schedule, within which WRA completed survey, concept and final design, and construction documents in less than five months. Phase 3, the final and most difficult portion of the route, crosses the Christina River, an active rail line, and extensive tidal wetlands. Construction of this section, including almost 4,000 feet of bridges, is nearly complete.
WRA designed an environment that is comfortable for commuter and recreational cyclists as well as pedestrians. The most critical elements for users are the two road crossings. Both feature wide raised medians and traffic controls (beacon and RRFB) to enhance safety.
As part of Phase 3, WRA is responsible for the design of three bridges, including a signature timber pinned arch bridge over the Christina River. The design process for this bridge included a charrette. Bridge work also includes a 3,300-foot-long boardwalk.
The trail incorporates seating areas with pavers, interpretive kiosks, bike racks, and benches. One of these areas is a scenic overlook of the Broad Dyke Canal and adjacent marsh. Landscape design focused on preservation of existing plant materials and trailside watercourses.