Proposed Route 589 Corridor Plan Released

SNOW HILL — County officials this week got a first glimpse at the state’s proposed Route 589 Corridor Vision Plan, but withheld a formal endorsement of the planning document for the busy stretch of highway until the public has a chance to weigh in.

The County Commissioners on Tuesday were presented with the State Highway Administration (SHA) future plan for the redevelopment of Route 589, the busy corridor between Routes 50 and 113 that runs through Ocean Pines and west of the relatively new Casino at Ocean Downs. The weighty planning document outlines the future vision of the corridor, including four lanes in either direction in most areas with a landscaped median.

The plan also includes a dedicated hiking-biking lane along the east side of the corridor and a sidewalk along the entire length of the west side of the highway.

Another key feature of the vision plan for the future of Route 589 is a proposed overpass over Route 50 that would connect with the service road the county is in the process of developing along the south side of Route 50, complete with on-and-off ramps.

According to the planning document, “two typical sections were developed for Route 589 in order to accommodate the needs of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists in the corridor.”

The typical open sections would have a higher design speed of 50 mph and a posted speed limit of 40 mph, while the typical closed sections of the corridor, through the existing urban areas, would have a design speed of 40 mph and a posted speed limit of 35 mph.

The open sections would have two 12-foot wide travel lanes in either direction with a 10-foot wide hiker-biker trail on the east side and a five-foot sidewalk on the west side along with a landscaped median down the middle. The typical “closed” sections would have more narrow travel lanes in both directions, but would include the landscaped median and the sidewalk on the west side of the highway.

SHA submitted the Route 589 corridor vision plan to the county planning department in March and now awaits a signature on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by county officials. However, Worcester Development Review and Permitting Director Ed Tudor told the commissioners on Tuesday he believed the proposed plans need further review.

“They’re looking for a MOU, but in good faith, I’m not entirely comfortable with it,” he said.

Commissioner Madison Bunting said the county should hold off signing the MOU until the public has a chance to weigh in.

“My biggest concern is signing off on this before we have a public hearing,” he said. “It’s more than just an MOU. There are things in here Worcester County is going to be responsible for.”