County Pursues Grant To Plan Route 611 Bike Path

SNOW HILL– Worcester County is seeking $200,000 in grants to plan for a shared use path on Route 611.

The Worcester County Commissioners this week voted unanimously to apply for two grants that would fund a concept study for a shared use path on Route 611. The path would connect West Ocean City to Assateague State Park.

“The state has money available for these projects,” said Dallas Baker, the county’s director of public works.

Baker told the commissioners he was seeking approval to apply for two grants, one through the Transportation Alternatives Program and another through the Bikeways Program. He said the county was eligible for the grants because it had included the shared use path on its annual Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) letter. The annual letter to the state outlines the county’s transportation priorities.

According to Baker, if the county gets the $200,000 in grant funding the concept study would identify right-of-way needs, environmental permit requirements and potential utility conflicts.

“Just getting the ball rolling,” Baker said. “We can then take that and parley it into future money for design and construction. It’s a very similar process to what Somerset County used to get their project started on building their shared use path long 413 from Crisfield out to 13. I’ve seen it employed while I was at the state as a successful model and I’d like to do that here to get us a similar facility.”

Baker also updated the commissioners on the other projects included in the last CTP letter. As far as dualizing Route 90, the top priority in the letter, Baker said the state was continuing its preliminary planning work.

“We are in the process of scheduling an update with the Office of Preliminary Planning and Engineering within State Highway,” he said. “We’re looking at possibly the second week in February to discuss how that project is moving along and where we stand on it.”

Though the concept of a third Route 90 lane is included in the letter, the commissioners told Baker they didn’t support that idea, particularly since it involved eliminated the guardrail, and asked that it be removed.

“There were a lot of people around the community working hard to get those guardrails up there…,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said. “That was a major improvement to the roadway by many of us who recognize the danger of that road. I’d hate to see the county advocate to rip up that guardrail.”

Baker said the third lane idea had just been included to generate discussion at the state level and would be taken out of the county’s next priority list.

“That was to spur the discussion,” He said. “A lot of times what we’ve heard from the state is ‘oh that’s a billion-dollar project that’s going to take a while.’ Well there are other interim improvements that can be made. It was just some suggestions to start the ball rolling.”

He said the state was also looking at the Route 611 and Assateague Road intersection at the county’s request.

“The state has begun conducting an intersection study to determine what improvements they can make to alleviate the congestion and queuing delays at that intersection,” he said.

The state is also reviewing the Route 367/Route 368 intersection in Bishopville.

Pedestrian safety improvements are also set to occur in the near future.

“State Highway has completed the design for the requested pedestrian crossing at that intersection,” Baker said. “Right now the only way to get across 113 in Berlin is down there by Uncle Willie’s. This would be connecting the AGH side to the Food Lion side.”

When asked about the likelihood of a crosswalk on Route 589 at the Manklin Creek Road intersection, Baker said it had already been approved. He said the state was just waiting for good weather to install it.

Baker told the commissioners they could expect an updated draft of the latest CTP letter next month so it could be forward to the state April 1.

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.