Plan­ning for Ches. City trail, streetscape ad­vances

Cecil Whig - - REGIONAL - By JA­COB OWENS

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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.

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

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.

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