By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(Sept. 28, 2023) All parts of Berlin could become more connected and accessible if the town obtains a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
On Monday night, the Town Council authorized the application for federal funds to improve walkability, safety and affordable transportation access and address barriers to connectivity, especially to disadvantaged or underserved communities.
Patti Stevens, the local representative on the Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs (TRAIN) said when she heard about this funding, Route 113 came to mind.
Stevens said the grant request would be $1.2 million. She expects that 35 percent of the expenses in the first year would be spent on public information, community engagement and preliminary planning. Sixty-five percent in the second year would go towards a feasibility study and design work.
“The community engagement and preliminary planning process will identify specific options to address the infrastructure barrier created by US 113,” Stevens said.
“Additional crossings, sidewalks, trails, and or a bike/pedestrian bridge are all possible ways that community connectivity and access to essential services could be improved.”
The funding is for community engagement, data collection and analysis, planning and feasibility and cost assessment of identified options.
Funds for capital construction of recommended options would need to be secured by either the town of Berlin or the state, according to Stevens.
She suggested that the extensive engagement of the community could also help with the town’s strategic planning initiative.
Stevens noted that 40 percent of federal funding must go to disadvantaged communities and that Berlin meets the criteria established by the federal government. Rural communities also have a preference but there is not a specific percentage designation.
Stevens said the Maryland Department of Transportation is supporting three requests, one of which is Berlin.
“We are well positioned to be considered,” Stevens said.