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


Make no assumptions about Rt. 113 bridge

The only bridge that will be built with the million-dollar grant to the Town of Berlin to solve the problem of access from one side of Route 113 to the other is the bridge to hope — hope that something will be done to show there is a genuine interest in connecting two communities that have been divided by the highway for generations.

As was reported in the Bayside Gazette in March when the U.S. Department of Transportation’s $1.2 million award was announced, “The town will also use the funding to identify necessary sidewalk and crossing improvements in the area and potential connections to existing and proposed bike and pedestrian facilities.” That covers a great deal of territory.

Ostensibly, the grant is intended to help cover the cost of planning and designing a pedestrian-cycling bridge over the highway, but the divide between that and actual construction is just as wide as that broad backbone of blacktop that bisects the town.

The price tag for such a structure would be in the neighborhood of several million dollars — obtaining a more exact estimate is one of the study’s purposes — and getting that kind of money for the town would be challenging to say the least.

That’s why town officials cautioned members of the public this week not to get ahead of themselves in discussing the possibilities, or assuming that something will be built sooner rather than later.

This isn’t to say that erecting a walkway and bike path over the highway wouldn’t go a long way toward building a more unified sense of community, but the first order of business is to use this grant to determine what is possible.

The mayor and council seem sincere in their pursuit of answers, but until this planning and design stage delivers conclusions, which would include how to pay for whatever project it recommends, the prudent approach would be not to assume anything.