South Point Bike Lane Idea Rejected Over Cost

BERLIN – Citing the cost associated with the project, the Worcester County Commissioners agreed not to pursue one citizen’s request to install a bike lane along South Point Road.

Based on a recommendation from Worcester County Public Works Director John Tustin, the commissioners opted not to build a bike lane but rather to install “share the road” signs along South Point Road. Tustin said the signs had helped in other parts of the county.

“That seems to be fairly effective,” he said.

According to Tustin, he looked into the possibility of constructing a bike lane at the request of Mary Johnson-Willis, who lives just off South Point Road. In a letter to the commissioners, Johnson-Willis said the road was used by many pedestrians and bicyclists traveling to Assateague Island. Blind turns and heavy traffic make the journey difficult.

“Recreational biking or walking should be something that we can pursue without putting our lives in jeopardy every time we venture out for exercise or relaxation,” she wrote. “Our road is extremely dangerous to motorists who do their best to avoid people and bicycles that they might encounter.”

Tustin told the commissioners he’d reviewed her request, which called for a shoulder or bike path from Route 611 to the boat ramp at the end of South Point Road, a distance of 3.5 miles. He said the road currently had a 40-foot right of way and that a bike path would require a five-foot paved surface on one side of the road.

“We put together a real rough cost estimate of over $100,000,” Tustin said.

He added that additional right-of-way would need to be acquired to create a bike lane which would further increase the costs. Other expenses would include permitting, stormwater concerns, and reconstructing ditches, among other things.

“I think your $100,000 estimate is low,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said.

Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw said he’d seen some roads with a painted stripe to alert motorists to the potential presence of bicyclists. Tustin said that was effective but that it required a hard shoulder, which South Point Road did not have.

Commissioner Bud Church said he’d had calls from area residents who were concerned about the installation of a bike lane along the road because it was already so narrow.

The commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with Tustin’s recommendation to install “share the road” signs along South Point Road.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.