March 20, 2024

Van Hollen, Cardin Announce $4.5 Million for U.S.-50, Route 113 Infrastructure Projects

Lawmakers announce over $11 million in total to reconnect communities across Maryland, secured through the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin announced $4,509,759 for two projects on the Eastern Shore to reconnect communities divided by infrastructure. These federal dollars, secured by the Senators through the Inflation Reduction Act, will fund critical transportation upgrades in two Eastern Shore communities. One grant will support planning and construction of pedestrian and vehicle access improvements along U.S. Route 50 in the Town of Easton in Talbot County. The second grant will support the planning and design of a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Route 113 in Berlin, as well as other sidewalk and street crossing improvements, to better connect both sides of the Town, which is currently split by the roadway.

The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and provided through the Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) Grant Program, which the lawmakers worked to create and fund through the Inflation Reduction Act. Last fall, the Senators wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of these requests for federal funding.

“For folks who live near and around Route 50, the pressing need to make it safer and more accessible is clear. And for residents of Berlin, Route 113 has for years split the town in two – dividing the community and hindering its economic growth. Our legacy transportation infrastructure was supposed to bring our state and our nation together – but in cases like these it has kept local communities apart. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we secured funding to confront and correct harmful infrastructure decisions of the past – like these,” said Senator Van Hollen.  

“Rural areas benefit from walkable, accessible communities just as urban and suburban areas do. Safer transportation connections for bikers and pedestrians support better access to businesses and a stronger local economy,” said Senator Cardin. “Improvements on US-50 and US-113 will have a significant impact on neighborhood connectivity and opportunity. The Eastern Shore has so many special places, and this new federal investment is supporting efforts to make them even better.”

“Federal funding is critically important in our efforts to improve the safety of our communities and deliver equitable transportation projects,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul Wiedefeld. “The Maryland Department of Transportation was proud to work closely with our federal partners and municipalities throughout the state to compete for this important funding. The more than $3 million awarded to the Easton neighborhood access project will continue our momentum to make US 50 safer and more accessible, and will increase access to essential destinations for the community in a historically disadvantaged rural area.”

“The Town of Berlin is grateful for Senator Cardin and Van Hollen’s support and advocacy for our ‘Bridging the Highway that Divides Berlin: Reconnecting Neighborhoods Split by US-113 project. The grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation will allow the Town of Berlin to make meaningful progress toward providing equitable and safe access to schools, shopping, and healthcare services for all community members. We look forward to working with community members and the Maryland Department of Transportation to develop an inclusive plan that overcomes the highway that divides our small town,” said Berlin Mayor Zack Tyndall.

The $4,509,759 in federal funding will advance the following projects:

  • $3,309,759 for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to Enhance Easton Neighborhood Access on U.S. Route 50: U.S. 50 is a major highway connecting Maryland’s Western and Eastern Shores and the primary highway to the Maryland and Delaware beaches. While serving these important functions for travelers, the highway has drawn economic activity and essential services away from Easton’s historic town center located west of Route 50. This project aims to mitigate this impact by improving the U.S. 50 corridor in Easton so that it is accessible and useful to both the local community and travelers passing through the area. The project will add new sidewalks, raised landscaped medians, remove crossers, and install new pedestrian signals. This work will enhance the pedestrian experience, increase access to essential destinations for the community, and improve safety on an important corridor. In October, the Senators sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of MDOT’s grant application.
  • $1,200,000 for the Town of Berlin’s “Bridging the Highway that Divides Berlin” Project: Berlin is located in Worcester County on the Lower Eastern Shore. For years, the town has been divided by Route 113, which limited access and opportunity, damaging the health, safety, and well-being of residents. Funds will be used to plan and design a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Route 113, remedying the longstanding lack of safe access to schools, shopping, healthcare, recreation, jobs, and business opportunities for many of Berlin's residents. The Town also will identify necessary sidewalk and crossing improvements in the area and potential connections to existing and proposed bike and pedestrian facilities. In October, the Senators sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of MDOT’s grant application.

These awards are two of six federal grants totaling more than $11 million that the federal lawmakers are announcing for Maryland to address infrastructure that has divided communities in our state. The awards are funded by both the NAE Program and DOT’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) Program – an initiative the lawmakers fought successfully to include in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The RCP provisions in the infrastructure law were modeled off of legislation authored by Senator Van Hollen and introduced as a bill by Senator Van Hollen and Senator Cardin. Cardin championed the legislation in his role as the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the Senate.