BERLIN – The Maryland State Highway Administration approached town officials this week regarding a piece of property needed to widen Route 376.
The Berlin Town Council on Monday heard from representatives of the State Highway Administration (SHA) regarding plans to widen Route 376 near its intersection with Route 113. The improvements, however, would require the town to deed a small piece of property to SHA.
“We’re widening this section so there’ll be more room for people to take the left or go straight and still allow traffic to bypass that queue to take a right onto 113,” said Dallas Baker, assistant district engineer for SHA.
Baker and other SHA representatives met with the town council virtually via Zoom on Monday to discuss the potential property transfer, which would need to be formally approved after public advertising.
Judd Vickers, SHA’s real property supervisor, told the council that in order to widen the section of Route 376, SHA would need the town to transfer a small portion of property at the intersection of Route 376 and Decatur Street. He said SHA would also need a temporary easement for construction purposes on adjacent land and then a perpetual easement for utilities on the other side of Route 376.
SHA’s Doug Sommers said the transfer would allow the agency to improve the flow of traffic in the area. It would also not interfere with the town’s eventual plans to align Decatur Street and Flower Street.
“It’s not often I get to say this — we’re being proactive to the community of Berlin,” he said.
He added that the queuing that occurred on Route 376 near Route 113 was not something SHA wanted to see. Baker agreed and said the property transfer would allow SHA to essentially add a third lane.
When Mayor Zack Tyndall asked if the council was ready to publicly advertise the transfer so that it could be voted on in January, Councilman Dean Burrell expressed concern.
“The advertising doesn’t commit us to anything,” Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood clarified.
Councilmember Shaneka Nichols said she couldn’t picture the proposed improvements and wanted more information.
“It doesn’t really sit well with me because my mind is still thinking about how congested and crazy that spot already is,” she said.
Councilman Troy Purnell suggested the town’s concept plans for the alignment of Decatur Street and Flower Street be provided to Nichols and her fellow newly elected council members. Tyndall said that when the proposed transfer was formally considered in January, additional information could be presented as well. The State Highway Administration representatives agreed.
“It won’t be hard for us to send you a before and after sketch,” Baker said.