BERLIN — Roadwork on Berlin’s Main Street will take place late at night this time around, instead of the usual daylight hours.
The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) decided to let the Mayor and Council choose during what time period Main Street would be paved. While paving work is traditionally done during the day, a similar project in Snow Hill generated complaints from business owners. The major concern is that paving requires one lane of the road to be closed, creating possible choke points if traffic is moderately heavy.
Mayor Gee Williams pointed out that, if businesses were complaining about issues in Snow Hill, Berlin had even more to worry about.
“There’s no competition in the amount of traffic between Berlin and Snow Hill,” said Williams.
With downtown Berlin already enjoying the start of the booming summer tourism season, Williams questioned whether or not it would be wise to potentially tie up the road during business hours. Director of Public Works Mike Gibbons suggested that the council stick to traditional day time hours. He pointed out that work done overnight might bother town residents.
“You’re going to have a lot of complaints either way,” said Gibbons.
Councilwoman Lisa Hall also recognized that not everyone could win in the situation.
“The merchants or the homeowners,” she said.
Economic Development Director Michael Day urged going with the 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. option.
“I’m voting for the night time,” he said.
Councilwoman Paula Lynch felt the same, worrying that disturbing the flow of business could be harmful. Williams admitted that, no matter what the council chose, one party would probably not be happy.
“It’s a judgment call,” he said. “It was considerate of the contractor to give the town the choice.”
The only silver lining, noted Williams, was that once paving was done, it would not need to be revisited for a “long, long time.”
Work on the road is slated to begin next week, and should last about four days. While Main Street hasn’t really deteriorated, Williams revealed that the paving work couldn’t be avoided.
A stretch of the road between Baker and South Main streets recently failed a friction test. The paving will also give the town a chance to implement other civic improvements, such as a new crosswalk on William Street at the entrance to town hall.
The council voted unanimously to go with the overnight paving option.