BERLIN — The next stage of construction on a service road named in honor of Pfc. Samuel Bowen, the first Berlin native killed in Iraq, is set to begin within the next 30 days.
Bowen, a member of the 216th Ohio National Guard Engineer Battalion and a 1983 graduate of Stephen Decatur High School, died on July 7, 2004 when his convoy fell under attack from insurgents in a small town north of Bagdad. A former member of the army who had re-enlisted in the guard, Bowen’s death came only a few weeks after he pulled several wounded comrades to safety during a grenade attack. Memorial services were held for Bowen both in his native Berlin and his adopted home of Cleveland, Ohio. Officials explained that the road will be a lasting tribute to the fallen soldier.
According to Worcester County Public Works Director John Tustin, plans to name the road after Bowen surfaced soon after his death. Plans for the road itself, however, have been floating around for more than a decade.
“Discussion of the project has been going on since 1997,” said Tustin.
He explained that construction of the road has been a process and the downturn in the economy several years ago did its share to hold things up. However, the ball continues to roll forward with construction of Phase 1B, which will likely begin sometime in early September.
Projected to cost about $700,000, Bunting and Murray Construction Company, (BMCC) located in Selbyville, Del., will lead the next phase of development after winning a bid competition against four other developers.
While BMCC didn’t place the lowest bid, it did come in only $2,425.86 above the actual lowest, Dixie Construction Company. Due to the county’s long history and solid working relationship with BMCC, the County Commissioners decided to award them the contract, though the decision was not unanimous, with Commissioner Judy Boggs uncomfortable with denying the lowest bidder the project.
Phase 1B will continue the work already being done to extend the service road and should eventually reach Seahawk Rd. Tustin explained that the purpose of the road will be to divert traffic from Route 50 in an attempt to alleviate heavy summer congestion.
A long time in the making, Samuel Bowen Blvd. is still far from complete.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” said Tustin.
While there are no final estimates for total cost or a completion date of the road, Tustin reported Phase 1B should complete by spring of 2012.