OCEAN CITY – The 10th annual Endless Summer Cruisin’ event rolled into town last week, but the custom cars and hot rods faced an unusual challenge this year as they attempted to traverse the roads between 26th and 60th streets that have recently been affected by the resurfacing project.
The State Highway Administration (SHA) began the resurfacing project two weeks ago, with the intention to resurface the northbound and southbound lanes of Coastal Highway between 26th and 60th streets. As a result, lane closures have been seen in the area as crews work to mill the roads and pave them. The project, which aims to be completed by early December, was planned during the off-season so as not to affect the heavy summer traffic. Unfortunately traffic was still affected last weekend, resulting in some unhappy Cruisers.
Greg Giesey of Fleet Maintenance, local auto shop and sponsor of the Cruisin’ weekend, heard a lot of complaints in regards to the roads. As a sponsor of the event, many cars stopped at Fleet Maintenance to be judged.
“A lot of people that came in were complaining,” Giesey said, adding that the Cruisers were unhappy with the conditions of the roads and the effects that it was having on their cars.
According to Giesey, the manholes and the bumps in the road made it difficult on the cars, many of which are lower to the ground than today’s vehicles. Fleet Maintenance alone saw several cars come into the shop in need of repairs. Giesey explained that broken motor mounts, control arm bushings and alternator brackets were a few of the repairs that resulted from the milled roads. Giesey also noted reports that he heard of a car with a busted front end. According to Giesey, the damages and the subsequent repairs could range anywhere from $50 to $1,000.
“They really should have waited at least another two weeks,” said Giesey, explaining that this past weekend had an adverse affect on the Cruisers and will most likely have a similar affect this weekend as the Corvettes roll into town.
“At least they missed Bike Week,” Giesey added, noting how difficult it would have been on one of Ocean City’s largest off-season events.
Grumbles from the Cruisers could be heard all around town this past weekend, with many people blaming the town and the City Council. However, as a state highway, Coastal Highway resurfacing falls under the jurisdiction of the SHA, not the Mayor and Council.
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas explained that the Mayor and Council were not responsible for the scheduling of the resurfacing.
“We had no control,” she said, explaining that the schedules are set by the SHA months ahead of time. “At no time did we even discuss it.”
Pillas said she heard comments last weekend at her Boardwalk retail store.
“We did have a lot of complaints about the roads,” said Pillas.
Although the timing of the resurfacing was unfortunate, Pillas said it had to be done sometime.
“The work has to be done in the off season,” she said. “It’s unfortunate and I’m sorry it happened.”
Many complaints centered on people claiming that the town had scheduled the resurfacing on purpose to run the Crusiers out of town, but Pillas maintained that that was not the case.
“I never felt it was deliberate. I heard no conversation among the council whatsoever like that,” she said.
Pillas said the council is well aware of the complaints and criticism expressed last weekend and consequently will make every effort to improve communication with SHA.
“When the public speaks up, we react, the government is a reactive body,” Pillas said.
The SHA appeared before the Mayor and Council on Tuesday to report on the progress of the resurfacing, and Mayor Rick Meehan addressed the issues that arose from the Cruisers this past weekend.
“I realize there’s never a good time,” he said, “but we could work hand and hand a little more when it comes to some of these events in town.”
Meehan also addressed complaints that the town had planned the resurfacing during Cruisin weekend on purpose.
“There were people thinking that it was done to deter them and that’s just not the case,” he said, assuring that the town never intended to adversely affect the event or its participants.
As for the remainder of the project, SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer assured the Mayor and Council that it would be complete by Dec. 7 and that traffic has been flowing smoothly.
Councilman Jay Hancock disagreed, noting specifically a major traffic back up on Friday morning.
“There just doesn’t seem to be any concern from the contractor about the traffic,” Hancock said.
SHA representatives assured Hancock that traffic seemed to be running smoothly.
“Well you weren’t in it Friday morning, the time I was there you would have been in your office,” Hancock said, maintaining that more could be done to keep traffic flowing.