Berlin To Fund Sidewalk Engineering Study

Berlin To Fund Sidewalk Engineering Study

Travis Brown
Staff Writer

BERLIN — Efforts to replace and extend sidewalk coverage for Broad St advanced Monday when the Berlin Mayor and Council green-lighted approximately $35,000 worth of engineering services for the area.

“It’s kind of been the forgotten street,” said Councilman Troy Purnell.

Purnell, who referred to getting sidewalks to cover all of Broad St. as his “pet project”, has been pushing for more attention to be paid to the road for years. He is a Broad St. resident.

According to Purnell, there was not always a need for much sidewalk on Broad St. However, that section of Berlin has been steadily expanding for some time. Purnell estimated roughly 100 lots in the area and feels that the current street conditions are not acceptable given the volume of people who use the road.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “There’s a lot of foot traffic going downtown.”

The council has discussed the installation and repair of sidewalks in the area before, but there has always been a question of funding. Because Broad St. is a state road, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is generally responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. However, a lot of roadwork is needed across the state and funds are severely limited.

Purnell remarked that the SHA would give a request for work on Broad St. more thought if Berlin took care of design work itself.

To that end, the council voted unanimously to approve a contract for engineering services to be carried out by Whitman, Requardt and Associates. The firm will examine Broad St. from Ann Drive to where it crosses railroad tracks and attempt to come up with a design for expanding sidewalks along the street where there are none and repairing any current sections that have fallen into disorder.

While the company won’t be doing any actual construction during the four-month period, the council hopes that design and bidding specifications can be drafted that will satisfy all parties involved.

“We’re going to have to see the cost,” said Purnell, who wasn’t able to guess at what the price tag for the town might be on such a large commitment, especially since SHA funding is still up in the air.

Even the potential source of funding is undecided. The roughly $35,000 being paid for engineering services is coming out of Berlin’s impact fee fund. However, whether or not the fund will pick up the tab for sidewalk construction hasn’t been confirmed.

Purnell said that, with so many variables, it would be a long time before work was finished on Broad St, though he was glad the ball was rolling.