At first glance, the feasibility study for a possible excursion train operation in Worcester County does not look promising as an initial step, but the effort deserves further consideration before its abandoned.
The question is how much money has to be spent during this evaluation period before a conclusion can be made on whether this sort of operation will be profitable in our seasonal area. The study released this week cost $20,000 and the county is being advised to embark on at least one more study and maybe two. These future studies will at least cost the same.
What’s clear from this early report is this will be a long-term project. Most likely it will be years before any sort of operation such as those found in neighboring Pennsylvania are up and running in Worcester County. There, the Strausburg Rail Road Company is a tourist destination, offering dining, amenities and a steam train through the Amish country. On special occasions, Thomas the Tank Engine visits and is popular among all ages.
Worcester County may never rival what Strausburg does, but there is certainly potential for the local operation to have success. The feasibility study documents the potential is there, but falls short of anything definitive to build a business model around. The study estimates a tourism trade from Berlin to Snow Hill and back would attract roughly 77,000 riders annually, based off the large tourism base and residents. The concept being the train would grab a small percentage of summer visitors but be a boon in the fourth quarter of the year when the weather changes, schools re-open and holiday special events can be marketed.
This is an exciting prospect and deserves its due diligence. The issue here is it will take a funding commitment, patience and more studies. Government works generally at slow pace so we should not expect anything concrete on this anytime soon. The question is whether the funding needed to carry out the infrastructure work on the existing rail line will be too prohibitive and who will pay for it. Time will tell, but in the meantime supporters, as well as opponents, will have to sit tight until all the details are known.
Worcester County Education Foundation Chair Todd Ferrante shared this week a You Tube video called “Did You Know? Shift Happens.” It provides a wealth of information, most of which is concerning how critical technology and associated enhancements will be in the lives of today’s young people and in particular their future. For example, one fact included in the video was … Continue reading
On the national, regional and local front, Tuesday’s election was all about the Republican Party, which swept nearly all races of significances on many levels and particularly on the hyper-local front on the shore. For only the second time in the last few decades, Maryland will have a Republican governor in Larry Hogan, who did what Bob Ehrlich did back … Continue reading
Overview The following is a look at our endorsements for a number of local contested elections. These endorsements are intended to give readers a glimpse into why we have decided to support certain candidates. We take this obligation of offering our suggestions seriously at this newspaper, and it’s important to point out these are endorsements based on our independent analysis … Continue reading
Early voting started yesterday in jurisdictions across the state and will run through Thursday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. In Wicomico County, the polling site is the Civic Center and in Worcester it’s at the Gull Creek Retirement Community in Berlin. It’s our hope the recent trends with early voting – those that confirm it’s not popular among voters … Continue reading
The Ocean City Council field is set. There are eight people seeking four council seats. That much we know today, but how the city got to this point has been anything but smooth. From four candidates’ residencies being challenged initially to the two public hearings needed to deliberate on the merits of candidates Joe Hall and Philip Ufholz, it has … Continue reading
To those who follow the local newspaper industry, it should come as no surprise that Gannett, the Virginia-based corporation that owns The Daily Times and several weekly papers in the area, is suing the Town of Ocean City. The company’s disconnection with the community it allegedly serves has never been more obvious than with this cold and ridiculous legal action. … Continue reading
While it’s unlikely to matter in the short term, Ocean City officials are wise to pursue Route 90, rather than Route 50, as a priority infrastructure project. At last week’s County Commissioner meeting, the Maryland Department of Transportation reviewed its six-year transportation project budget with Worcester officials. Continuing the dualization phases of Route 113 remains the top priority for the … Continue reading
It’s unfortunate, but the most memorable aspect of this 2014 season in Ocean City is negative in nature. It will be all the tragedies that have occurred in the ocean this year. Wednesday, Sept. 17 is a day emergency responders will not soon forget in Ocean City, as two people lost their lives after getting in trouble in the ocean, … Continue reading
Rarely do we opine on ongoing court cases, but the strange circumstances surrounding last month’s death of a Pennsylvania man allegedly at the hands of two local residents begs for an exception. This case appears to be a classic “he said, he said” and when it comes time for the case to be adjudicated determining what exactly happened could be … Continue reading