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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Pedestrian safety committee collects more sigs

BERLIN—More than 1,032 signatures have so far been collected from people who support an initiative to improve the safety conditions at intersections of U.S. Route 113 within town limits, Pat Dufendach, member of Berlin Pedestrian Safety Committee, told the mayor and town council during a Dec. 9 meeting.
Dufendach said committee members met with Donnie Drewer, District 1 engineer, and Dallas Baker, transportation engineer, of the State Highway Administration, on Dec. 4. The committee members were very pleased with the responses they have received from both the SHA officials during the meeting and from local elected officials since the start of the initiative. “They were overwhelmingly attentive to our issues,” she said of the SHA officials.
The committee includes Town Administrator Laura Allen, Sue Beaman, Councilmember Dean Burrell, Roxie Dennis, Dufendach, Councilmember Lisa Hall, and Gabriel Purnell.
Dufendach outlined a listing of issues, proposals and actions that were underway that were discussed during the meeting. They included:
Traffic moves too fast through the municipality of Berlin, with a proposal to lower the speed limit within Berlin to 35 miles per hour. A study was underway, she said.
The need for pedestrian initiated crossing at lighted intersections, with a proposal to install countdown crosswalks at Bay Street and Old Ocean City Boulevard. Improvements to the Bay Street intersection are scheduled to begin by late January 2014.
Berlin Intermediate School is in close proximity to Route 113, with the proposal for signage notifying drivers they are entering a school zone. The issue is scheduled for a study at some future time.
Worcester Preparatory School and Buckingham Elementary School’s use of South Main at Route 113, with the proposal for the installation of a traffic light at the intersection. A study on the intersection has been proposed for June 2014.
There is a lack of adequate lighting to ensure visibility for pedestrians along the highway, with the proposal to improve the lighting along the corridor.  The issue is scheduled for a study at some future time.
There is a lack of compliance to rules of the road by both drivers and pedestrians, with the proposal to create a pedestrian safety campaign similar to Ocean City’s “Walk Smart” in initiative. The committee handed out prototypes of buttons with the Town of Berlin seal and the slogan “Slow Down in Our Town.”
Dufendach said additional education and outreach measures the committee is considering were a partnership with Ocean City’s and other pedestrian safety programs, including working with Wor-Wic Community College for their commercial driver and motorcycle students, handing out pedestrian safety awareness materials at town festivals and arts nights, and a word of mouth campaign.
In a letter to State Highway Administrator, Melinda Peters, the Worcester County Board of Education joined the Town of Berlin’s request for a safety study of Route 113 at the Bay Street intersection and other areas in Berlin where children attempt to cross the highway.
Superintendent of Schools President Jerry Wilson, said in the letter that during its Nov. 15 meeting, the Board adopted a resolution to concur with the town’s formal request that the State Highway Administration study the intersection “to improve safety features that could include increased lighting, pedestrian crossing, and other markings warnings or speed reductions as warranted.”
The board also said, “Worcester County Public Schools operates twenty-five busses on a daily basis at the Route 113/Bay Street intersection,” which it added traverse the intersection approximately one hundred times every school day. “The safety of our students is always our main priority during the school day, but especially so when we are charged with safely transporting students to and from school,” he said.
Mayor Gee Williams commended the committee for accomplishing “a whirlwind” of things in a short span of time, which he described as “effective advocacy,” and the way the citizens and government officials approached finding solutions to the problem. He offered the town’s support to the committee. “Whatever you need, you have it,” he said.
With acknowledgement of what some have described as a divisive historical intent for the highway separating the town in the manner that it does, Williams said the highway goes by many informal names, the most polite of which was “The Berlin Wall.” He suggested that with the community uniting as it has to get safety improvements at the town intersections along the highway, it could one day be referred to as “Berlin’s Backbone.