OCEAN CITY – Despite $1.1 billion in cuts by the Department of Transportation, projects directly impacting Ocean City will proceed with as planned, most notably phase two of the Route 50 Bridge resurfacing project.
Donnie Drewer, district engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said the “actual effect of the cuts didn’t hurt Ocean City”, but stated that, “if the economy keeps going down, there could be more cuts.”
As a result, construction on phase two of the Route 50 Bridge project is slated to begin in early March, which will see traffic being reduced to one lane each way while work on the south facing sidewalks and the deck overlay takes place. If all goes well, according to Drewer, the project should be completed by May.
Councilwoman Mary Knight wondered if weather was the main factor in the decision to start the project in March, noting that many business owners complained last year that weekend traffic was slowed to almost a halt due to construction.
Drewer described the latex overlay that has to be placed on the bridge had to be installed in good weather and was hopeful to finish the project by May, but refused to promise otherwise, saying, “There’s no way I’m going to say we’ll get it done before early May, but it’s certainly our hope.”
Other reports from Drewer included the repaving efforts currently ongoing in West Ocean City to the Herring Creek Bridge, saying that it is going as planned and should be completed by “the first or second week in December.”
Drewer said SHA also wanted to remove the flashing signal at 131st Street after doing a traffic study on the site last season.
“They plan to leave the turning lane, but remove the light,” said Drewer.
There are plans in place for 2009 to repave Coastal Highway from 9th to 26th streets and potentially adding a bus lane in the southbound lane from 17th to 9th streets, which would require removing some parking and the structured “bump-outs”, but Drewer said, “we simply don’t have the money for that one right now.”
Mayor Rick Meehan brought up Route 589 and wondered what SHA was planning for that area in light of slots likely to come to Ocean Downs.
“We are in discussion with the County Commissioners about what to do with Route 589,” said Drewer. “Our plan is to sit down with the owners of Ocean Downs and talk about how it’s going to look and how having slots there will impact traffic. We will treat him like any other developer as far as making him do a Traffic Impact Analysis.”