BERLIN – A feasibility study for a shared use path along Route 611 will move forward with $136,000 in grant funding.
Late last month, Gov. Larry Hogan announced $35.7 million in grant funding for 53 bicycle, pedestrian and trail projects throughout the state. Among the award recipients was the Worcester County Public Works Department, which received $27,280 through the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network and $109,120 through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to complete a feasibility study for a shared use path along Route 611.
“These grants will provide residents with improved bicycle and pedestrian access for transportation, recreation, and good health,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Strengthening Maryland’s bike and pedestrian trail network provides greater quality of life for residents of all ages, and makes our state even more attractive for residents and businesses.”
In February, the Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to apply for the two grant programs in an effort to fund a feasibility study of a shared use path, which would connect West Ocean City to Assateague Island.
Public Works Director Dallas Baker told county officials at the time the project was eligible for grant funding because it had been included in Worcester County’s annual Consolidated Transportation Program letter to the state. He noted the study would identify right-of-way needs, environmental permit requirements and potential utility conflicts.
“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,” he told commissioners in February. “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.”
Patti Stevens, chair of the Worcester County Bike and Pedestrian Coalition, noted that the Route 611 project would benefit bicyclists and pedestrians utilizing the corridor.
“The Route 611 corridor connects the biggest draws for visitors and is a route used by several large road bike events,” she said this week. “A separated path would allow and encourage people of all ages and ability levels and those without cars to enjoy the treasures of Assateague state and national parks.”
In total, Worcester County received $136,400 in grant funding through the TAP and Bikeways programs to begin the first step in designing a shared use path along Route 611.
The Transportation Alternatives Program provides funding for on- and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, environmental mitigation, and projects related to the Safe Routes to School initiative, while the Bikeways program provides state funding for planning, design and construction of infrastructure such as bike lanes and shared use paths.
“There’s no question safe and convenient bike and pedestrian access is a critical component of Maryland’s transportation network,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “The projects that Governor Hogan is supporting through these grant awards will impact communities from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland in a very positive way.”