Bridge Work Scheduled For May 11 Completion Date

OCEAN CITY – In a presentation by the State Highway Administration (SHA) this week, town officials were updated on a variety of projects, from the Route 50 Bridge work to the installation of LED lights throughout town, providing a clearer look at SHA projects slated for 2008.

SHA representatives Donnie Drewer and Gene Cofiell reported to the City Council this week for their annual spring meeting, providing the list of highway improvements that the town will be garnering this year.

The Route 50 Bridge work has been on the forefront over the past few months, as motorists have adapted to the traffic changes that have resulted. Town officials and motorists were delighted when the SHA work on the bridge deck was completed ahead of schedule, allowing for bridge access prior to the busy President’s Day weekend.

SHA representatives thanked the town this week for its patience with the bridge closure, remaining hopeful that the current work, which has resulted in lane closures, will finish ahead of schedule as well.

“The latex overlay is going very well, if anything I’d report that we are a little ahead of schedule,” said Drewer, reporting that the work was proceeding smoothly. “Right now we’re scheduled to re-open by the 11th of May and hopefully we’ll be able to beat that schedule.”

As for traffic issues arising from the lane closure, Drewer noted that problems have been minimal.

“If anything we did an overkill with the detour signs,” he said, explaining that the signs, which encouraged trucks to reroute to Route 90, confused several motorists, leading them to believe that the Route 50 Bridge was still closed.

Although complaints regarding the narrow lanes on the bridge have been heard, Drewer maintained that the lanes are wide enough.

“As long as traffic slows down, with the two, 10-foot lanes it’s tight, but it’s working,” he said.

The Route 50 Bridge study is also proceeding smoothly, reported Drewer.

“The study has narrowed the alternatives down to five alternatives, including the no build alternative,” he said.

A public hearing will be held May 29 in an effort to garner opinions on the alternatives before making a final decision.

“We hope to have a preferred alternative by spring 2009,” said Drewer.

Coastal Highway roadwork has seemed never-ending over the past year, as crews have worked to repave several areas of the town.

“Hopefully we’ve finished the pavement overlay on Coastal Highway for awhile,” said Drewer this week.

Drewer noted that while some work still needs to be completed along Coastal Highway from 9th to 26th streets, the majority of the pavement overlay work should be finished for awhile.

Work will be done from 9th to 26th streets this fall in an effort to correct previous work.

“It’s still not what we consider up to our standards,” said Drewer.

Included in the 2008 Coastal Highway work is the recoating of the downtown stamped asphalt crosswalks. SHA will begin with the recoating of crosswalks from South 1st to 2nd streets this year and may go further depending on funding. Drewer reported that SHA plans to complete 10 blocks per year, aiming to finish the project in two to three years.

A major initiative, which began this week, will be the conversion of all traffic lights throughout town to LED lights.

“The LED lights make a great deal of difference and I think that’s an excellent step forward in our progress,” said Councilman Jay Hancock.

Countdown signals are also being added where they are absent, ensuring that every crosswalk throughout town has a signal countdown for pedestrians to reference.