Drawbridge Change Sought For Holiday

OCEAN CITY – The scheduled closure of the Route 50 drawbridge on the night of the 4th of July could be moved to a later hour to help relieve fireworks traffic if the full Mayor and Council accepts the Police Commission’s recommendation.
Last month Lt. Scott Harner of the Ocean City Police Department brought to the Police Commission’s attention the town’s ability to make a request in changing or expanding the time frame the Route 50 drawbridge is closed on the night of the 4th of July to relieve traffic from the downtown area following the fireworks display.
The Coast Guard will allow the bridge to remain in the closed position from 9:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on July 4. The current operating schedule for the bridge is set for the draw to open at 25 and 55 minutes after the hour for a maximum of five minutes, except that on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. the draw shall open on the hour for all waiting vessels and remain in the open position until all waiting vessels pass.
The majority of the vessels that transit under the bridge this time of the year are recreational boats. Vessels that are able to transit under the bridge without an opening may do so at any time.
Since the bridge is currently allowed to be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., the 9:55 p.m. and 10:25 p.m. openings are eliminated from the schedule. However, the fireworks go off around 9:40 ending around 9:50, resulting in heavy traffic between 10 and 11 p.m.
Harner had been in communication with US Coast Guard Master Chief Ross Fowle of the Ocean City station, which supports changing the time the drawbridge is prohibited from rising on the night of 4th of July but the commission was concerned over the backlash the town may receive from the Ocean City charter community.
This week Harner returned to the Police Commission after speaking with the Judith M, which is a 75-foot super cruiser out of Bahia Marina. The vessel informed Harner last 4th of July the vessel traveled north in the bay to view the fireworks and would not have a problem with a change in time.
Harner also spoke with John Lewis with the Duckaneer Pirate Ship out of the Talbot Street Pier downtown who responded they “will make it work” if a change took place in the time of the drawbridge closure during the holiday.
The commission was in consensus to send a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and City Council to request the federal government to change the time of having the Route 50 drawbridge closed to vessel traffic on 4th of July from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. to instead 10 to 11 p.m. That would eliminate the scheduled closures of 10:25 and 10:55 p.m.