Aberdeen's MARC train station getting a quick facelift

The City of Aberdeen is planning more improvements to the MARC train station, if it's approved for a grant it will be applying for next month.

Those improvements would be in addition to the work under way at the station that includes remodeling the inside before moving on to the outside.

The contractor so far has done a "beautiful job," Aberdeen City Manager Randy Robertson said at Monday's City Council meeting. He had toured the inside earlier in the day.

"They're ready to turn their efforts to the exterior," he said.

Robert Infussi, manager of transit-oriented development for the Maryland Transit Administration, said his agency's project is "rolling."

"It's going to be a destination point when it's done," Infussi said, adding it will have phone chargers and a bike storage area.

The city will be applying by mid-May for a grant through the Maryland Transportation Alternatives Program Application to "enhance and improve the Aberdeen MARC station connectivity and this will include accessible pathways, enhanced transit waiting areas near the Exxon Station, wayfinding and lighting, eliminating impediments to accessibility and enhancing the underpass access," according to an announcement on Aberdeen's web page.

Aberdeen was denied a grant through the program last year.

City planning director Phyllis Grover said, however, that the denial spurred creativity among the city, Maryland State Highway Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority to really look at ways to improve the area around the train station.

Each jurisdiction is allocated a certain amount of money through the grant, Grover said. In Harford, it's close to $1 million and it hasn't been used.

Aberdeen and Harford County officials agreed, Grover said, that improvements to the train station area are a top priority, and that support from the county could help Aberdeen secure the grant.

"For the application to be considered seriously, we have to be ranked higher on the county's priority list," Grover said. "The train station area, around it needs to be more pedestrian friendly, handicap accessible. This fills in where some shortcomings are at the station."

Grover said she is seeking the entire amount of the money available.

If it's awarded to Aberdeen, the grant requires a 20 percent match. Infussi said Maryland Department of Transportation would provide $100,000 and the City of Aberdeen and Harford County would provide $50,000 each.

The project includes several parts, including rebuilding the bus stop with a semicircular plaza paved with brick, two bus shelters provided by Aberdeen and Harford County, a 1-1/2-foot high brick wall with built-in lighting and shrubbery and flowers planted along it, resodded lawn and improved access to nearby bus stops.

Bike racks would be installed in three places around the station, the station welcome sign would be relocated, the sidewalk would be extended 5 feet from the first entrance drive to the second, three crosswalks would be painted, the curb would be extended from East Bel Air Avenue to APG Road along with a new sidewalk and pedestrian and cyclist signs would be installed indicated directions and distance to the station and nearby cycling routes.

Eight-foot sidewalks would be added along the curb extending from the existing apartment complex sidewalk to the APG Road and East Bel Air Avenue intersection.

Upper portions of the underpass would be repainted – white walls and light green columns; damaged flashing and roofing would be repaired and graffiti removed; accent lighting would be added and interior lights replaced with brighter lighting; and mirrors and bike-wheeling channels would be added to the stairs.

As for the overpass, the project includes replacing damaged or rusted sections of fencing, removing brush and undergrowth around the bridge and removing lips from approach ramps on both sides.

Part of the proposal included cleaning and repainting the entire interior (concrete, steel and fences) with graffiti-resistant white or beige paint and cleaning and repainting the passageway with a colorful graffiti-resistant pattern.

That portion, however, has been estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $1.8 million, which "seems to be beyond the scope of the project," Earl Leach, a professional engineer with Rummel, Klepper and Kahl of Baltimore. He was hired by MTA, Grover said, and presented the proposal to the Aberdeen City Council Monday night.

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