OCEAN CITY — The major sewer installation project that has disrupted traffic patterns throughout the winter and late fall should be concluding on schedule and is not expected to impact the resort’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Throughout the winter, the major sewer force main installation project has slogged steadily north on Philadelphia Ave. and Coastal Highway in three-block sections from 15th Street to ultimately 49th Street. According to Public Works Director Hal Adkins, the purpose of the project is to gain a better grasp of sewer flows coming from the south end of town along with the flow sewage from neighboring West Ocean City.
“We were having a sewer surcharging problem because of the flow from the downtown area and West Ocean City,” said Adkins this week. “This new pipeline will divert the flow to a point where it can be intercepted by a dedicated main.”
During the life of the project, the southbound fast lane on Coastal Highway has been closed for significant periods of times as crews dig the requisite ditches and install the new 24-inch sewer force main, complete with the standard barrels, cones and lane closure warning signs so prevalent in the resort during the offseason.
However, the project is now nearing completion and any disruption during the upcoming parade is expected to be minimal if anything. Adkins said this week the excavation phase of the project has now reached the 45th Street area with the back-filling and paving phase close on its heels. The project is scheduled to conclude at 49th Street and Adkins is confident there will be little disruption on the annual event caused by the sewer main installation project and its familiar green pipes.
“We’re trying to bury the green before they start drinking the green,” he said. “Seriously, the project is on schedule and should be nearing the 49th Street finish line before the parade. What people should envision is all excavation and paving completed before the parade.”
However, Adkins warned the highway will not be completely repaved and marked prior to the parade. Instead, what will likely occur is a shift in the traffic pattern to accommodate the annual event.
“Throughout this project, the southbound fast lane has been closed to traffic as we install the main,” he said. “What will likely see during the parade is a shift in traffic flow with the fast lane open to parade traffic with barrels separating the other lanes. The fast lane, on which the parade is held, will likely be about an inch higher than the other lanes after we come behind and repave it following the installation, but it will be clearly marked and shouldn’t cause any problems.”
In short, the parade will go on regardless of the status of the project.
“Weather permitting, I see no reason why we can’t achieve all of this,” he said. “If we don’t, we’ll temporarily patch the highway and in no way is the parade route in jeopardy.”
When the sewer installation project reaches 49th Street, crews will cut through the median strip there and connect the new pipe to the existing main on the north side. Adkins said crews have been repaving behind the excavation and installation work, but the final road surface is far from finished.
“The minute we’re done paving that trench, State Highway (SHA) is going to come behind us a week later and repave that entire section as planned,” he said. “We knew SHA was coming behind us, so we didn’t have to be too fine with our own paving project because they’re going to mill it down and repave it anyway.”
Meanwhile, another significant project downtown, the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Boardwalk continues to move forward on schedule. Part of the first phase, from the Inlet to Somerset Street, scheduled to be completed by the end of February, actually wrapped up last week. The other portion of Phase I, from 27th Street to 15th Street is expected to be completed by the end of April and remains on target