Salisbury, State Formalize Bike Path Details

SALISBURY – The Salisbury City Council worked on a couple of Memorandum of Understandings with the State of Maryland involving bicycle paths and the inmate work crews.

The first resolution on the table was for the City of Salisbury to authorize Mayor Jim Ireton to sign an amendment to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Northeast Collector Bike Path Phase II of Pedestrian-and-Bicycle-Faculties Improvements.

According to the resolution, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has a multi-year Transportation Enhancement Program for making pedestrian-and-bicycle-facilities improvements. The program provides grant funds for the City of Salisbury to use in specific areas and the pedestrian-and-bicycle-facilities improvements to be constructed. The entire project cost for this segment is around $450,000.

Improvements will run along the west side of the Northeast Collector Road, Phase II, and connect to the existing path already constructed under Phase 2 of the Northeast Collector Road, which ends approximately at Shamrock Drive. It will also directly cross Route 50 and extend southward along Beaglin Park Drive to the south side of Mount Hermon Road, linked and widened along the other existing pedestrian and bicycle paths along the west side of Beaglin Park Drive and connect to the existing Salisbury Urban Greenway at North Park Drive.

According to Director of Public Works Teresa Gardner, the city signed the MOU on Dec. 20, 2010 with the SHA and the Department of Transportation to provide a grant of $225,000 for the Northeast Collector Hike & Bike project and is doing so per a number of different funding resources.

The state has recommended that electronic crossing devises be installed at the crossing of Route 50, Beaglin Park Drive and the Northeast Collector, to allow bicyclists to cross the highway on a timed signal for a determined period of time working in the same manner as a pedestrian signal. This recommendation was no included in the initial grant.

The city has received notification from the state it will provide another grant of $90,000 to cover the additional cost. The current MOU states the city is not allowed to receive any additional funding for this project but the state has agreed to eliminate this language in the amendment.

Once the amendment is completed the state with send another amendment to the MOU for the $90,000 grant award and the city administration will have a resolution prepared to do so.

With no discussion the council voted 3-0, Council President Terry Cohen and Councilwoman Laura Mitchell absent, to authorize Mayor Jim Ireton to sign an amendment to the MOU.

The next resolution on the table was for the city to authorize the mayor to enter into a MOU with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit, to allow the city to use inmate work crews on various projects.

According to Gardner, Public Works proposed to utilize inmate work crews for various projects, such as weed pulling, debris removal, snow removal and general maintenance.

The cost of a six-person inmate work crew is $87.61 a day, which is $2.60 per inmate, including transportation costs, which is a significant savings to the city when compared to hiring six full-time employees. The city has budgeted $24,000 in FY 2013 to reimburse the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Popular Hill Pre-Release Unit.

“I am happy to see this happen,” Councilwoman Shanie Shields said. “We are paying other people to do the work when we can use these folks.”

Councilman Tim Spies called it a “win-win” for the Department of Public Safety and Salisbury’s Public Works Department.

“I want to say thank you to Ms. Shields because a number of years ago she was the person who wanted to advance the idea that this is something that we should explore and here we are and let’s hope it will be successful,” Council Vice President Deborah Campbell said.

The council voted 3-0 to approve the MOU.