Now that construction of the Indian River Inlet Bridge is completed, the state has started making roughly $10 million in improvements to Delaware Seashore State Park.
“We’ve been waiting about 10 years, since construction began on the bridge, for the start of this project,” said Doug Long, park superintendent. “When work began on the bridge, we had to close down some of our features, like the old camping area on the south side and most of the north side.”
Enhancements will include increased parking amenities to more than 600 spaces, a promenade that connects the north and south sides of the inlet and a new RV campground that offers water, electric and sewer as well as a modern bathhouse and a laundry facility. The plan also includes a revamped “old camp” site with 90 spots for tent campers as well as a bathhouse. For anglers, a special 31-space fishermen’s parking lot will be constructed on the north side of the inlet. Other improvements include a playground, a nature walk, a DART bus stop and outdoor pavilions.
The Delaware Department of Transportation is also making various improvements to roadways within the park, including installation of a new roundabout and expansion of roads to make RV travel easier and safer.
“Throughout most of the design for this project, a lot of emphasis has been made on increasing traffic flow as well as accessibility and maneuverability for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchair users,” said Marx Possible, project resident for DelDOT.
The cost of this project totaled $9.87 million, of which the Federal Highway Administration paid $7.06 million and the rest was covered by the Delaware Department of Transportation. According to a joint news release from DelDOT and the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment Control, the enhancement funds were set aside 10 years ago due to the footprint that bridge construction would have on state park lands.
“The upgrades and enhancements replace what was taken away during construction and are designed to modernize park amenities to today’s outdoor recreation standards,” the release states.
During Monday’s tour of construction at the inlet, Gov. Jack Markell said for an area that relies so heavily on tourism, the enhancements to the park are a big deal.
“This will certainly be an upgrade from when my family and I used to come here in the mid-’60s,” Markell said. “There will be hundreds of people able to stay here every night during the summer. I can’t wait to come back and see all these people enjoying this fantastic park in this great area.”
DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara said the investment into the park will allow thousands of additional families to enjoy the area’s natural resources up close.
Page 2 of 2 - “These are things that affect real people,” O’Mara said. “Think about the diversity of experiences going into this plan.”
Because construction is ongoing on both side of the inlet, the park is closed for the season. The south campground and the southeast day-use area are scheduled to reopen before Memorial Day weekend in 2014. Camping reservations for 2014 will be accepted once a firm date is set for completion of the construction work.
The new RV facility will not open until fall of 2014.
For more information and to track the progress of construction, visit www.deldot.gov or www.destateparks.com.