Governor Jack Markell, Federal Highway Administration Delaware Administrator Mary Ridgeway, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, and DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens joined other officials today for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, opening the brand new North Inlet Campground and enabling the public to enjoy other new improvements at Delaware Seashore State Park. Nearly $10 million worth of construction has been completed on enhancements in the park. This year, work focused on the north side of the Indian River Inlet. Enhancements to the south side were completed in 2014.
The contract was awarded for $9.87 million, of which the Federal Highway Administration paid $7.06 million while the remaining funds came from state capital funds awarded to DelDOT. State and federal transportation funds were used because the footprint of the construction of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge utilized state park lands for bridge construction. The upgrades and enhancements replace what was taken away during construction and are designed to modernize park amenities to today’s outdoor recreation standards.
“These improvements showcase Delaware Seashore State Park as a major Delaware destination,” said Governor Markell. “The upgrades, enhancements – and especially this new campground – make the park even more attractive to families and anyone who lives, works or visits here. All of this is good for tourism, for our economy and for the enjoyment of the people of this state.”
“The Indian River Inlet Bridge gives breathtaking views of the Delaware coastline to travelers, and now the public can enjoy this scenic area at the Delaware Seashore State Park once again,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “I am proud of the federal, state and local partnerships that have allowed these economic development projects – which benefit all Delawareans and tourists – to happen, and I look forward to visiting here this beach season.”
"Our seashores are some of our state's greatest natural resources and beloved tourist destinations," said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. "With the construction of the beautiful Indian River Bridge, we lost some of those amenities that accompany our parks. Now with the completion of the wide range of improvements, adding more campsites, more parking spaces and new laundry facilities, these improvements will continue to provide the outstanding outdoors experience that more than one million visitors have come to expect."
“Delaware beaches are already among the most popular vacation spots on the east coast, and the improvements underway at Delaware Seashore State Park will only make them better,” said U.S. Rep. John Carney. “The economy in Sussex County, and across the entire state, relies heavily on tourism. This project is an investment that will bring more visitors to the state and support the many jobs and businesses in the area. I can’t wait to see this in person.”
“The investments at Delaware Seashore State Park will allow thousands of additional families to enjoy this incredible recreational jewel,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “From new campsites, expanded parking, a brand new, full-access walking promenade, and playground – these improvements and enhancements will make this park a must- see attraction for all Delawareans and visitors.”
“The improvements to the Delaware Seashore State Park are an example of what can be accomplished when two state agencies work together,” said DelDOT Secretary Cohan. “DNREC and DelDOT have created a premiere campground that rivals any on the East Coast.”
“This outstanding project is the result of true partnerships between Federal Highway Administration, DelDOT and DNREC,” said Ms. Ridgeway, Delaware administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. “We are so pleased that federal dollars helped to put folks to work during construction and will continue to benefit the economy through the many visitors to this great area.”
Some of the new amenities include:
74 full-hookup campsites (featuring water, electric and sewer)
Six ADA-compliant campsites
Modern, full-accessible heated bathhouse with hot showers
New laundry facilities for campers
Fully accessible walking promenade, enabling visitors to safely walk to the ocean or over the bridge to the south inlet.
Sidewalk access to Indian river Marina and Hammerhead’s Dockside Café
For day-use visitors, new amenities include:
221 parking spaces
New, modern comfort station
Deluxe rinse-off showers
New benches along the scenic Indian River Inlet
In addition, there will be new playgrounds with a local fishing theme, sun shelters, more benches and a mini climbing wall.
“Not only are the north and south sides of the park now connected, new amenities will enable visitors to access and enjoy the bridge itself as a destination,” said DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Director Bivens. “Those who want to stay overnight will have plenty of options from tent camping to RV to exclusive cottages and the state-of-the-art marina, all located along the inlet within walking distance to the beach.”
Construction completed in 2014 on the south side of the inlet included the refurbishing of the RV and tent campgrounds, 94 new camping sites, renovated bathhouses, six new RV sites with full hook-ups, more parking for anglers and much more.
Reservations are currently being accepted for all three Delaware Seashore State Park campgrounds - available beginning Monday, March 30. Reservations can be made by calling 1-877-98-PARKS, or visiting http://www.destateparks.com/.
This weekend is a “soft opening” – a special time for the park’s top 80 campers from the 2014 season. They will spend a complementary weekend at the park to evaluate the new amenities and upgrades, and provide feedback on any logistical issues that need to be addressed before the park opens to the public.
In his remarks, Gov. Markell highlighted how the transformation of Delaware Seashore State Park promotes outdoor recreation, healthy living, tourism and the economy. He outlined the progress that has been made on two of his major initiatives, the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative, and the Children in Nature/No Child Left Inside Initiative. The Governor noted that since 2012, more than 25 miles of trails and pathways have been added throughout the state. He also pointed out that parks and trails provide a way for children and families to be physically active and live healthy lifestyles – major goals of the Children in Nature Initiative.