OCEAN CITY – Residents and visitors who routinely use the Route 50 bridge will likely have another batch of headaches starting next week when the State Highway Administration (SHA) begins the second half of a $2.4 million deck replacement job on the span, the first phase of which was undertaken this time last year.
SHA officials announced this week the eastbound lanes of the span would be closed for as long as three months as construction crews pick up where they left off last winter and spring with the vast re-decking project. Last year, the westbound lanes of the Harry Kelley Memorial Bridge were closed from the end of February to around the end of March, when the project was completed ahead of its mid-May timetable.
The project was divided over two years in an effort to minimize the impacts on local residents and visitors who utilize the span to access the downtown Ocean City area and the second half of the project is expected to commence on Monday, February 16. During the second phase, the eastbound lanes of the bridge will be closed as crews mill down the existing surface and prepare the roadway for re-decking with a new concrete overlay.
During the life of the project, the westbound side of the bridge will remain open with one lane of traffic in each direction. The eastbound lanes under construction will be separated from the open westbound side of the bridge with a concrete barrier, or Jersey wall. The two lanes open in each direction on the westbound side will be separated by flexible posts, just as was the case last year on the opposite side.
Electronic signage and other signaling devices will direct motorists coming from either direction through the construction zone. While the similar project done last February and March did create some headaches for drivers, and more that a few fender-benders, SHA officials hope the second phase will be quick and painless.
In a statement this week, SHA officials said they would work diligently to open all eastbound lanes before Memorial Day. A similar promise was made last year and the westbound side was completed ahead of schedule by the end of March. Although traffic will not be detoured, SHA officials are urging motorists to consider using the Route 90 bridge to access Ocean City during the re-decking project.
SHA officials said this week the 57-year-old bridge is structurally sound, but the concrete deck on the roadway is in need of repair. During the project, the sidewalks on both sides of the bridge will be replaced to make them ADA compliant.