Roots Raising Highway Medians

OCEAN CITY – The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) returned to City Hall this week for its annual spring meeting with the Mayor and City Council, addressing a few areas of concern along Coastal Highway.

District Engineer Donnie Drewer began with reviewing the sidewalk construction from 71st to 141st streets. The sidewalks are in the works of becoming ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliant.

Drewer said sidewalk work from 71st to 82nd streets and 123rd to 131st streets is going to continue up to Memorial Day weekend.

Next, Drewer went over the repairs, repainting and replacement scheduled to take place on the Route 50 bridge fencing and handrails, which will be complete by Memorial Day weekend.

Council President Jim Hall suggested the state consider using blue instead of the customary black. Drewer responded he has never come across blue fencing but will look into it, and if possible will at least paint the handrail a different color besides black.

Drewer addressed the root protrusion of the trees in the medians of Coastal Highway. The roots have caused the bricks in the medians to heave to a point where it may create a trip hazard for persons crossing the highway.

“We have been made aware that the roots of the trees have made the brick pavers heave,” Drewer said. “We do realize this is a problem and we have our eye on it, but right now we don’t have the money to replace it or fix it. We will just have to keep it in the program to see what we can do with it at a later date.”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins reiterated the roots have caused a safety hazard for pedestrians crossing the highway who gravitate toward the medians instead of the crosswalks. He said a short-term solution that has been discussed is to remove the bricks, grind the roots down and replace the bricks.

“Well I think we do need to get a plan to address it because it is probably going to get worse, and it does create a safety issue … see if we can come up with some sort of long-term solution,” Mayor Rick Meehan said to Drewer.

Drewer said a green color has become apparent on the surface of many medians, especially under the trees. He explained power washing would remove the color but would also remove the sand joints within the bricks.

“It is the same situation where we would like to do it but we just don’t have the money right now,” Drewer said.