Berlin Street Overhaul Planned

Berlin Street Overhaul Planned
Gay Street, which connects Broad and Jefferson streets in Berlin, is pictured this week. Photo by Bethany Hooper

BERLIN –  Officials outlined plans for an overhaul of Gay Street in a special meeting this week.

Town staff and Josh Taylor of Davis Bowen & Friedel met with interested residents Wednesday to share information regarding street and sidewalk repairs as well as waterline upgrades planned for Gay Street.  Construction is expected to begin in May and should take five weeks. Taylor assured residents and business owners crews would work with them during the process.

“The road will remain open to local traffic,” he said.

The improvements coincide with the construction of a new mixed-use building on Gay Street. As officials prepared to connect the building to town utilities, they realized the waterline serving Gay Street needed to be replaced.

“Your flow is very constricted,” Taylor said, adding that the current two-inch line would be replaced with a six-inch line. “By putting this new water main in here, we’ll be not only increasing the capacity of the water in that area we’ll be improving the water quality.”

Because that will involve digging a five-foot trench down one side of the street, town officials decided to incorporate street and sidewalk replacement into the project.

“The road’s not in great shape,” Taylor said.

He said permitting for the project should be complete by the end of the month. After that, the town will advertise and seek bids for the work. Though the project will feature a 60-day contract, Taylor said he expected the actual work to take about five weeks.

When asked about the road width, Taylor said the standard was 11 feet for each lane but that lanes could be as narrow as nine feet.

“We’re just over that here,” he said.

Officials have mentioned the possibility of converting Gay Street to a one-way road. Taylor said doing so would not create many additional parking spaces.

“To me, it’s not worth it to make a street one way to gain six parking spots,” he said.

He added that the road was already so narrow that it was not conducive to on-street parking. Neighborhood merchant Jeff Auxer, whose business sits between Gay Street and Jefferson Street, suggested the road be widened where it was possible, such as behind his shop.

“It would be extremely helpful to have that extra two feet,” he said.

Taylor agreed.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t do that,” he said. “We can maximize road width based on existing pole location.”

Property owners who expressed concern about the length of time water would be turned off as the water main was replaced were assured the process would be done as fast as possible. Jane Kreiter, the town’s director of public works and water resources, said the process typically took two to three hours.

“We’ll be in close communication,” she said.

Town officials said while Taylor had looked into the possibility of making Gay Street one-way, no decision to adjust traffic flow had been made. Police Chief Arnold Downing said that if a change were to be made it would be up to the mayor and town council.

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.