Berlin Seeks Federal Grant Help To Connect Communities

BERLIN – The Berlin Town Council agreed this week to apply for federal funding that could be used for design of a pedestrian bridge over Route 113.

On Monday, elected officials authorized an application for funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation Reconnection Communities and Neighborhoods for Community Planning Project. The funding could help the town plan for a variety of connectivity projects, including a pedestrian bridge over Route 113.

“I would posit that this legislation is written very specifically for the conditions that we have in the Town of Berlin,” said Patti Stevens, a member of the state’s Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs who’s been assisting the town with its application.

Stevens, who’s been working with town staff to complete the grant application, said the funding had been made available through a 2022 infrastructure bill.

“The purpose of it is to create solutions for communities where infrastructure barriers divide the community and create inequities in access,” she said.

When Stevens heard about the program she immediately thought of Berlin and the divide created by Route 113. She said the town could apply for the federal funding so that it would be able to begin the community engagement and planning that would have to take place before a project like the pedestrian bridge that’s been talked about could take place. The town’s application will seek $1.2 million in grant funding, which would be awarded on a reimbursement basis.

“The intent of this project would be to look at a wide range of connectivities, sidewalks, trail connections, improved crossings, whether it’s at Old Ocean City Boulevard at Main Street, at 818 at the south end of town, the range of those would be clarified through the community engagement process, through the data analysis and through the preliminary planning,” she said.

Grant awards will likely be announced in the spring of 2024. While the town has support from the Maryland Department of Transportation, Stevens noted the agency is seeking funding for three projects of its own and is supporting other municipalities that are putting projects forward for grants. She stressed however that the funding program had been established to help jurisdictions like Berlin.

Mayor Zack Tyndall praised Stevens as well as town staff for their efforts on the application.

“It’s a federal level grant,” Tyndall said. “It’s very, very complex. Patti and Sara (Gorfinkel) and Mary (Bohlen) and Dave (Engelhart) have done a phenomenal job navigating that process.”

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.