Federal Funding to Help with Downtown Mall Project

Published: May 30, 2018

CUMBERLAND — Another $300,000 in federal funding will help with roadway improvements to Baltimore Street in the city of Cumberland, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen announced Wednesday.

The funding, which totals $550,000, is administered through the Appalachian Regional Commission. The ARC initially granted $250,000 for the downtown project in January.

Jeff Rhodes, city administrator, said the funding will assist with the downtown mall renovation project. Estimated to cost between $5 and $7 million, the plan will restore Baltimore Street through the pedestrian mall by constructing a one-way street from Mechanic through to George Street.

“The funds are to help with the Baltimore Street project to help piece the funding for the project together,” Rhodes said. “This certainly is a big portion of the funds we need. We appreciate Senators Cardin and Van Hollen’s efforts. Bill Atkinson, with the state department of planning, also contributed. He helps with ARC projects in our area. A lot of people came together and without them it wouldn’t happen.”

Rhodes said the funds will be for work above ground. The project also calls for the replacement of aging underground utility lines and the addition of high-speed broadband fiber optics.

“These dollars are at grade and up,” Rhodes said. “We will continue to work to piece the financial puzzle together and efforts will continue in that regard. The taxpayers will not have to foot all of the bill. The grant funding is the key component with the project.”

Rhodes said groundbreaking for the project is likely in the spring of 2020.

Van Hollen and Cardin also released statements on the funding.

“This latest federal investment in Cumberland’s infrastructure will improve some of the area’s most heavily used roads, allowing local commerce to grow and motorists to reach their destinations safely and efficiently. That’s a win for residents on all fronts,” Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, said. “This is a great example of how federal resources can be used to help local communities flourish. I’m proud of the work ARC is doing and proud to continue advocating for their full and complete funding.”

“Revitalizing our communities is crucial to our success as a state,” Van Hollen, a member of the Budget and Appropriations committees, said. “Projects like these create good-paying jobs and help stimulate economic growth in Western Maryland.”

The funding will be used to increase visibility, build additional traffic and bike lanes and improve traffic flow access to businesses along Baltimore Street and the surrounding area. The project is estimated to create approximately 50 jobs and aims to attract new businesses and spur economic growth upon completion.

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