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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Berlin mayor and council tables approval of West Street upgrade designs

By Hunter Hine, Staff Writer

The Berlin Town Council on Monday tabled a motion that would contract the design of infrastructure improvements on West Street until its next meeting on Nov. 2.

Council members voted 4-1 to push the motion down the road, with Councilman Steve Green voting against it.

The motion would grant a contract for the design phase of West Street‘s reconstruction and utility upgrades to Davis, Bowen and Friedel Inc. (DBF) an architecture, engineering and surveying firm from Salisbury.

Joshua Taylor, and engineer with the firm, said waiting another two weeks for the vote would give the company time to modify the proposal’s language to make sure engineers consider more stormwater planning around Buckingham Lane, Abby Lane and Westminster Drive.

Councilman Jack Orris suggested tabling the motion pending a meeting between DBF and EA Engineering, Science and Technology, an environmental engineering consulting firm.

DBF’s proposal estimated the project’s design would cost $90,100, and the council’s motion would have approved the builders to spend a maximum of $100,000.

Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said that town had budgeted over the company’s estimate in case planners decided to extend the work partly into Buckingham Lane.

As the project was presented in DBF’s proposal on Monday, the improvement project would encompass West Street from Broad Street to Buckingham Lane and includes roadway reconstruction, sidewalks, a potential bike path and utilities.

Mayor Zack Tyndall said that the design doesn’t include putting utilities underground because, even though it is recognized as a best practice, the cost would be “several million dollars.” Tyndall also requested that DBF plan for underground conduits, which could help serve future projects.

The most expensive aspects of the design are the topographic and utility survey and the design and construction drawings, which both come at a cost of over $22,000 each, according to the proposal.

The topographic and utility survey is an overall assessment of the existing street, utilities and a determination of the street’s right-of-way. The survey may require testing to find the depths of underground utilities, the cost of which is not included in the proposal.

Design and construction drawings would outline the work that’s required to complete the upgrades and include bidding documents for the construction phase that is yet to come.

Taylor said the cast iron water main along West Street is probably rusted and shrunk to about half its original diameter, so a new main would improve water pressure. There are also lead “goosenecks,” or water service lines, which must be removed per a new EPA mandate, and the mains have likely been collecting lead particulate over the years too, he said.

It would also help to replace the clay sewer mains with PVC, Taylor said.

In the proposal, company personnel wrote that about 28 properties will have to agree to easements in order to fit in the bike path, a portion of the project that they estimate to cost between $14,000 and $15,000.

To incorporate a bike lane into the project, it would likely only be four feet wide —meaning it would be a one-lane bike path — unless they obtained a significantly larger easement, Taylor said.

Taylor said that the original hope of the plan was to improve the roadway for pedestrian use. He said that in order to include sidewalks and bike lanes, it would be necessary but challenging to work through trees, landscaping and inclines.

Other aspects of the planning design would include geotechnical sampling, which is an assessment of trench restoration and road paving design, erosion and sediment control plans and stormwater management plans. All these pieces of the design phase would range in price from $4,000 to $8,500, according to the proposal.

The company estimated the total design phase of the pump station replacement would cost $12,600. According to DBF’s proposal, the pump station, which is currently in the roadway, would be moved to a new location adjacent to West Street, but that new spot isn’t yet determined.

“We really want to get that pump station out of the street. It’s just not a safe working environment for the public works department. It’s not smart from a structural standpoint to have a pump station under the roadway,” Taylor said.

The pump station is estimated separately because company personnel anticipate the station would be designed and constructed before the rest of the project, according to the proposal.

The pump station would also require easements but DBF personnel expect it to be built on county property along West Street.

Orris said he wants to make sure this project is fluid enough in the design process so that the town doesn’t have to dig into West Street a second time and can fit in as many improvements as possible with this project.

Once the construction comes, authors of the DBF proposal said the company will handle bidding and award contracts, as well as serve as administrators for construction throughout the project.

The construction of West Street, its adjacent utilities and the pump station are estimated by the firm to come out to $168,900.

The firm estimates the total project — design and construction included — to cost $259,900.

After hearing about the lead water lines, Councilman Dean Burrell raised concerns about other lead pipes that exist around town. Taylor said that DBF is working with the town to meet a deadline set by the Maryland Department of the Environment to make a lead service line inventory.

The state of Maryland will help fund replacements of lead water lines based on the inventory, and replacements have already begun on Williams Street and West Street, Taylor said.