Planning for Ches. City trail, streetscape advances
— Town officials got a look Wednesday night at the advancing efforts in planning a new south-side trail system and streetscape project that will enhance amenities and change the traffic flow in town.
Brian Morgan, senior associate at the town’s contracted engineer, KCI, reviewed updated plans for both the Bohemia Trail and the Village Streetscape projects with Mayor Dean Geracimos, the town council and town administration during their workshop meeting, which was moved from its normal Monday schedule due to quorum issues.
The Bohemia Trail features about 8,000 linear feet of 8-foot-wide walkable asphalt trail that will run from Pell Gardens near the town basin to the Bohemia Manor school complex off Route 213. Geracimos’ vision has always been to tie in the north sides’s 16-mile Ben Cardin C&D Canal Recreational Trail to the south side’s Bohemia Trail with a ferry service, marketing the amenities as a destination for bicyclists.
The Bohemia Trail, funded by a more than $1.5 million Maryland State Highway Administration grant, is currently under review by the SHA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after KCI had to clear some hurdles in its original plan’s alignment and design, Morgan said.
“There was a section of the trail next to the basin that was requested to be changed from (asphalt) to a wooden deck material,” he explained, noting that because it lies in a floodplain, the geography would be difficult to permit.
The wooden deck will be similar to the decking already in place in other parts of south Chesapeake City.
“Now you will have actual connectivity all the way from Pell Gardens to the Bohemia Manor schools,” Morgan said. “I don’t know of anyone that we’ve encountered locally that has this scale of a project.”
“That’s huge,” Geracimos remarked.
Meanwhile, a grant application to fund the first phase of the Village Streetscape project, which includes new sidewalks and traffic rerouting on Bohemia Avenue, and additional parking on 1st Street, was submitted earlier this summer and staff expect to hear about its results around April.
In 2014, Chesapeake City received an $80,000 Com- munity Legacy grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to begin design of a comprehensive streetscape initiative to rehab the historic district. Some of that funding paid for the new brick sidewalks and crosswalk improvements on 2nd Street installed by the State Highway Administration, but some paid for the overall design by contracted town engineer, KCI.
Physically, the project will add appealing brick sidewalks and granite curbs throughout the majority of the historic downtown rather than the current concrete slab as well as appealing black metal benches, tree planters, trash receptacles and signs. While the engineering design makes parking spaces easier to navigate and adds a sidewalk to 1st Street, it may also result in a net loss of parking spaces in the center of the south side of town.
Also among the more dramatic changes will be the reduction of two-way traffic to one-way on George Street between 2nd and 3rd streets. Inbound traffic on George Street will be required to turn onto 3rd Street while outbound traffic would travel to 1st or 2nd streets and exit town on George Street. The excess space on the affected portion of George Street will become new parking spaces, meant to offset losses of other parking spaces throughout town.
“The parking is going to be so much more efficient,” Morgan said. “I think you’re going to have much happier business owners, patrons and residents with the angle of the chevron parking and local amenities.”
Morgan said KCI expects to put the projects to bid in the spring with an award date sometime in early May, hopefully allowing construction to begin as soon as the weather breaks.
Geracimos, who has anxiously been pushing for work to begin as soon as possible, asked Morgan if anything could be done to advance the timeline, noting state officials sounded excited about the projects when he discussed it with them at the Maryland Association of Counties convention this summer.
Morgan said that with several more weeks of plan reviews and presentations, the best hope would be to cut the final plan approval time from a month to two weeks, shaving some time off at the end of the planning stage.
“As long as our state colleagues remained focused we’ll get to that date ahead of time,” he said.
Chesapeake City Mayor Dean Geracimos, left, and KCI senior associate Brian Morgan, right, review updated Bohemia Trail plans while other town officials look on at the town workshop Wednesday.