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Eastern Shore Communities Get Funds For Transportation

March 20th, 2024 by WCBC Radio

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin announced $4,509,759 for two projects on the Eastern Shore to reconnect communities divided by infrastructure. These federal dollars, secured by the Senators through the Inflation Reduction Act, will fund critical transportation upgrades in two Eastern Shore communities. One grant will support planning and construction of pedestrian and vehicle access improvements along U.S. Route 50 in the Town of Easton in Talbot County. The second grant will support the planning and design of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Route 113 in Berlin, as well as other sidewalk and street crossing improvements, to better connect both sides of the Town, which is currently split by the roadway. 

The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and provided through the Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) Grant Program, which the lawmakers worked to create and fund through the Inflation Reduction Act. Last fall, the Senators wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of these requests for federal funding.

“For folks who live near and around Route 50, the pressing need to make it safer and more accessible is clear. And for residents of Berlin, Route 113 has for years split the town in two – dividing the community and hindering its economic growth. Our legacy transportation infrastructure was supposed to bring our state and our nation together – but in cases like these it has kept local communities apart. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we secured funding to confront and correct harmful infrastructure decisions of the past – like these,” said Senator Van Hollen.  

“Rural areas benefit from walkable, accessible communities just as urban and suburban areas do. Safer transportation connections for bikers and pedestrians support better access to businesses and a stronger local economy,” said Senator Cardin. “Improvements on US-50 and US-113 will have a significant impact on neighborhood connectivity and opportunity. The Eastern Shore has so many special places, and this new federal investment is supporting efforts to make them even better.”

$3,309,759 for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to Enhance Easton Neighborhood Access on U.S. Route 50: U.S. 50 is a major highway connecting Maryland’s Western and Eastern Shores and the primary highway to the Maryland and Delaware beaches. While serving these important functions for travelers, the highway has drawn economic activity and essential services away from Easton’s historic town center located west of Route 50. This project aims to mitigate this impact by improving the U.S. 50 corridor in Easton so that it is accessible and useful to both the local community and travelers passing through the area. The project will add new sidewalks, raised landscaped medians, remove crossers, and install new pedestrian signals. This work will enhance the pedestrian experience, increase access to essential destinations for the community, and improve safety on an important corridor.

$1,200,000 for the Town of Berlin’s “Bridging the Highway that Divides Berlin” Project: Berlin is located in Worcester County on the Lower Eastern Shore. For years, the town has been divided by Route 113, which limited access and opportunity, damaging the health, safety, and well-being of residents. Funds will be used to plan and design a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Route 113, remedying the longstanding lack of safe access to schools, shopping, healthcare, recreation, jobs, and business opportunities for many of Berlin's residents. The Town also will identify necessary sidewalk and crossing improvements in the area and potential connections to existing and proposed bike and pedestrian facilities.