While West Bel Air Avenue in Aberdeen is torn up for reconstruction, the city is going to take the opportunity to do its own improvements in the downtown area, city officials said.
The Maryland State Highway Administration is set to begin a project in late summer or early fall of 2019 that includes patching, milling (removing the top layer of asphalt), paving and restriping West Bel Air Avenue (Route 132) between Paradise Road (Route 462) and Route 40, according to Charlie Gischlar, a spokesperson for SHA.
“Since the state is going to be in the area, we thought it would be feasible to include some sidewalk replacement, outside the SHA construction zone, but that would be a benefit to the city,” Department of Public Works Director Kyle Torster said.
The city had proposed removing the red, brick stamped concrete that is in the downtown area, he said, but “we didn’t know what the costs were going to be.”
“We wanted to see what our cost share would be as a joint venture with SHA,” Torster said.
That part of the project was abandoned and the design stopped once the city realized how expensive it would be.
Instead, Aberdeen is moving forward with a traffic calming project to be done concurrent with the state project, Torster said.
As the state does its project, the city is going to extend the curb to create a bumpout, a calming effect, in the block between Howard Street and South Parke Street, he said.
“In creating the bumpout, it will slow traffic down in particular and make it safer for pedestrians to cross West Bel Air Avenue because there’s less asphalt for them to cross, so they’re protected,” Torster said.
Four bumpouts will be installed, two on each side of Howard and West Bel Air Avenue and Parke and West Bel Air Avenue.
“As we evaluate this, we may look at expanding in other parts of the downtown area, to make this area more pedestrian friendly, safer,” Torster said.
The cost of the bumpouts is expected to be less than $100,000, he said.
Other beautification amenities, such as benches, are being considered for downtown, but that has yet to be determined, he said.
Other SHA work includes drainage improvements, repairing and/or replacing concrete sidewalks to meet ADA standards, as well as installing a pedestrian crossing sign at the West Bel Air and Howard Street intersection and a flashing school warning sign at West Bel Air and Baker Street, Gischlar said.
The traffic signal at West Bel Air and Route 40 also will be reconstructed.
The project is still in design and is funded for construction, which is estimated to begin late summer or fall 2019, Gischlar said. Weather pending, it should be finished by late fall of the following year.
Once the project is started, work will be done during the day and at night. Working hours on West Bel Air between Route 40 and the railroad crossing will be done from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday nights through Friday mornings and from the railroad crossing to Paradise Road from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., Gischlar said.