BERLIN – The sidewalk work disrupting traffic and causing lane closures in downtown Berlin is expected to last through the summer.
Officials from Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) report that the sidewalk replacement project that began this spring in Berlin is expected to be complete by the end of the summer. The $400,000 project consists of the installation of new sidewalk along Main Street from Route 346 to Tripoli Street.
“Crews have completed the south side of the project and are roughly halfway through the northbound direction,” SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.
The sidewalk being replaced is more than 20 years old and in poor condition, according to Gischlar. The new sidewalk will meet the latest accessibility requirements. It will be five feet wide and features handicap accessible ramps as well as detectable warning surfaces, or the bumps that enable a visually impaired person to know a road is ahead.
“The project is a basic sidewalk retrofit,” Gischlar said, “repairing aging sidewalk and bringing it up to current ADA standards.”
Gischlar said SHA was working with business owners to minimize the impact the project would have on them. Work is also suspended during weekends.
Berlin Councilmember Lisa Hall praised the project and said crews were doing what they could to minimize the effect of the work. She said Monday they were still pouring concrete at 7 p.m.
“I think they’re doing a good job working around traffic,” she said.
Town employees are working with the company handling the sidewalk installation to remove and then reinstall Berlin’s Victorian streetlights. Work was being done in front of Leaky Pete’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse this week but was expected to wrap up before Friday’s bathtub races.
Hall said she had heard no complaints from merchants regarding the work thanks to SHA’s efforts to keep them informed of when the work would be near particular storefronts.
“The state’s being proactive,” Hall said.
Jane Kreiter, the town’s director of public works, said she had heard from some shop owners who wanted to know if work would be taking place in front of their businesses.
“We have been assured by State Highway that they’ll give them a week’s notice that they’ll be in front of their particular establishment so they’ll have time to make other plans,” she said. “In some instances, they want to remove some breakable items in their front windows.”
While the summer tourist season isn’t ideal for sidewalk replacement, Gischlar said the project required consistent temperatures above 40 degrees.
“Spring and summer were chosen due to temperatures as well as daylight,” he said.
Kreiter said the sidewalks along Main Street had long been in need of repairs, as there were some “treacherous” areas and accessibility issues.
“It’s going to be much nicer,” she said.