Eastern Shore Drive, a seldom-used, four-lane roadway built years ago as an alternative to busy Route 13 through town, is slated for a makeover as a better and safer way to connect Salisbury University with Downtown Salisbury.
The project has great potential, City Council President Jack Heath said in a recent interview on PAC-14.
“If we bring it out the way we’d like to, the drawings are beautiful,” he said. “It’s going to be very, very nice.”
The plans call for a wide, landscaped promenade down the center to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists with roundabouts at each end at the intersections of Carroll Street and College Avenue.
Currently, there are two lanes in each direction, plus a center turn lane, but the project would reduce the number of traffic lanes to one in each direction.
“It’s way oversized for the amount of traffic,” said Amanda Pollack, the city’s Director of Infrastructure and Development, citing a traffic study of the street.
Narrower streets also discourage speeding, she said.
Drawings for the project posted on the city’s website show landscaping along the promenade and both sides of the street, bike racks and other amenities for cyclists, seating, a neighborhood park at the Carrollton Avenue intersection and a pocket park at the corner of Carroll Street.
The project also will address rainwater management in the area.
The designers for the project compared the plan to promenades in other cities, including the park area that divides Commonwealth Avenue in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood and the Allen Street Bikeway on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The city has included the project on its transportation wish list that is submitted annually to the Maryland Department of Transportation, and it is included in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan, but residents shouldn’t expect to see anything happening there just yet.
Pollack said the Eastern Shore Drive project will “need lots of grants,” and so far the city hasn’t applied for any funding. Work on other streets will come first, including bikeways improvements on College Avenue and Isabella Street.
Another pending project along Carroll Street could get under way soon. City officials are expected to announce grant funding for it as soon as this week.
Carroll Street will undergo significant changes with the addition of a two-way cycle track on the north side of the street along the river, separated from vehicular traffic with a landscaped barrier with trees and other plantings.
The new cycle track will link to one on Waverly Drive and also tie into the new traffic circle at Riverside Drive.
The project will include a bioretention system for stormwater before it drains into the Wicomico River.
The changes will narrow the roadway significantly, which Pollack said is designed to have a calming effect on traffic.