Resort Scores $80K Bikeways Grant

OCEAN CITY – Nearly $80,000 in grant funding will allow the resort to develop a strategic plan for completing its continuous bike path.

In a meeting of the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee this week, President Paul Mauser announced the town had been awarded $79,700 through the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program. He said the grant funding will allow the town to hire a consultant for the development of a strategic plan that will be used to further its bicycle network.

“Basically, we want to develop alternative bike routes to Coastal Highway,” he said.

In recent years, the town embarked on a multi-phased initiative to install a continuous bike route from one end of Ocean City to the other without using Coastal Highway and other busy thoroughfares. And by and large, the resort has succeeded in using side streets, alleys, parking lots and more.

Councilman Tony DeLuca, committee liaison, told members this week he expected the strategic plan to further the town’s effort in making Ocean City a more bikeable community.

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“We know there are possibilities, it’s just connecting the dots …,” he said. “My hope is that they come up with some great ideas for us to have an alternate route.”

Mauser told the committee this week a strategic plan would provide preliminary designs and cost estimates for four or five proposed biking corridors in town.

“There will be a lot of different options discussed,” he said.

In 2018, the town sought $80,000 in Bikeways funding to hire a consultant that would develop a bike master plan for the town. That application, however, was denied because the request did not meet the criteria for eligible projects.

Since then, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville has agreed to develop an abbreviated master plan in-house, an effort that is currently ongoing. But earlier this summer, the town applied to the MDOT Bikeways Program once more after learning it would be eligible for funding to complete a strategic plan.

“It’s different than a master plan in that a master plan is going to inventory every single street in town as a broad brushstroke, whereas a strategic plan is going to be much more actionable,” Mauser said in July.

With the grant award of nearly $80,000, Mauser told the committee this week the town would now begin the process of developing a scope of work for the project, which would be publicly bid to engineering companies later this year.

“We would probably be getting in proposals in January …,” he said. “We will evaluate them as a committee and hopefully sign a contract by February.”

Through the Bikeways Program, MDOT offers grant assistance to jurisdictions and key agencies to improve safety, enhance multimodal connections and fill missing links in the state’s bicycle network.

Since the program’s inception, every county in Maryland has received Bikeways awards, totaling $24 million for 160 projects, of which 114 projects have been completed. This year, the MDOT Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program has designated $3.78 million for 19 projects across Maryland.

“Bicycle infrastructure is a key component of Maryland’s transportation system, and this grant program allows the state to support local partners and invest in safety and connectivity for Maryland’s multimodal transportation network,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater. “These projects will improve bike and pedestrian access to transit, employment centers, schools, shopping and other destinations, and support economic development and the quality of life in Maryland communities.”

In 2016, Ocean City received more than $50,000 from the program to create a bike route along Sinepuxent Avenue, which runs from 146th Street to Montego Bay. And just last year, the town pursued roughly $60,000 in grant funding to construct a shared bike path in the residential community of Montego Bay, but that application was denied.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.