BERLIN – Plans for a bike path along the railroad tracks through Berlin continue to move forward.
On Monday, the Berlin Town Council voted unanimously to seek a grant to aid in construction costs for the first phase of a bike trail that would run beside the railroad track through town. As designed, the 1.8-mile trail would allow bicyclists to travel from Evans Road to Route 50.
“The asphalt path is going to stay entirely in the (railroad) right of way,” said Tim Metzner, an associate and landscape architect with Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc.
Metzner presented the council with the Berlin Bikeway Concept Plan on Monday. The plan was funded by a Maryland Department of Transportation grant the town received last fall.
Metzner said the trail would consist of a roughly 1.8-mile asphalt path. In areas where the path crosses streets, it would be marked with green paint so that motorists were aware of it.
“A lot of towns in Maryland have started to do this,” he said.
The path has also been designed to include a variety of pull-off areas, which would feature a bench, trash can and water fountain.
While the entire project is estimated at $950,000, officials have recommended breaking the trail into three phases. Town Administrator Laura Allen said the state had about $3 million in grant funding available and that the town would have a better chance getting three smaller grants than one large grant. Any grant the town does receive will require a 20 percent match from the town, though Allen pointed out part of that contribution could be in-kind services.
“We’re not exactly sure what the right mix of cash and in-kind services might be,” she said, adding that that would be finalized if and when the town received a grant, which could happen later this year or early next year.
The first phase of the proposed bike trail would be a section in the middle, which runs from roughly Berlin Falls Park to Broad Street. Allen said that would increase activity at the new park. The next two phases of the project would go from Broad Street to the south end of town and from Berlin Falls Park to Route 50.
Allen said the amount of lighting along the path was something officials would have to decide on. Mayor Gee Williams said he definitely wanted the path to feature lighting.
“I think it adds an element of security and safety,” he said.
Planning Director Dave Engelhart said there were portions of the trail that already had ambient light but that additional lighting could be added where needed. Williams agreed and said “blinders” could be added to new lights that might impact nearby homes. He said he hoped the town could install the Victorian style street lights.
“Where we’ve got a lot of people and traffic I’d rather have something that’s very safe but complements what we’ve built this town on,” he said.
Councilman Zack Tyndall proposed the town explore the cost of adding emergency call buttons, similar to those used at colleges, along the path.
The council approved the concept plan and authorized town staff to submit the grant application for the first phase of the bike path. If a grant is awarded, Allen said she would approach the council with a budget amendment to cover the town’s 20 percent match.