Friday, September 26th- Route 589 Future Discussed

BERLIN – The dualization of Route 589 may be further away than ever with the recent decision by the state of Maryland to defer a lengthy list of planned highway projects, but State Highway Administration planners went ahead with a Route 589 open house last week.

The well-attended event at Stephen Decatur Middle School offered maps, schedules, traffic assessments, environmental impacts and an opportunity for concerned citizens to voice their suggestions.

Arlene Conway of Ocean Pines recommended not adding a second lane at all, a radical suggestion given the general outcry for dualization. Conway, who moved to the area eight years ago from New York, felt that dualization would increase year-round traffic.

“That’s why we moved here, because it’s not the fast city life we came from,” Conway said.

Conway described a situation in the resort areas of Long Island, where the roads where not dualized; a single lane was enough for the year-round traffic through the off-season, though there were traffic impacts in the summer.

Bob Price was concerned about pedestrians crossing Route 589 to reach shopping areas.

“In the summertime, it’s a hazard to your health to walk across that street. Sometimes it’s a hazard to drive across,” Price said.

Price also wondered where the money would come from for the dualization, which would expand the road to four lanes total, given current and projected poor economic conditions.

Brainstorming suggestions, listed on large pads of paper by SHA employees as they were made, identified citizen priorities, which ranged from adding an access road to South Ocean Pines to forcing commercial traffic to use Route 113 instead of driving Route 589 as a cut through to better pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

Work on the long awaited Route 589 improvements will not begin for years. Funding for preliminary studies and planning only emerged two years ago, despite years of requests.

Currently, SHA is developing a guiding principles document for the 589 work, with corridor alternatives to be done in spring 2009.

A public workshop on alternates will be held in the summer or fall of 2009 and a corridor vision document will be done in winter 2009.

Conway praised the open house format versus public hearings or sit down meetings.

“This is more informative,” she said.