BERLIN — The mysterious black-shrouded highway signs that appeared last week on both sides of Route 50 from roughly Route 589 to Berlin are the precursor of a significant State Highway Administration (SHA) project at Route 50’s intersection with Seahawk Road.
About a week ago, the rather ominous highway signs covered in black tarps appeared at frequent intervals from just east of Route 589 to the intersection at Route 346 in Berlin along Route 50. There are five pairs of signs on the westbound side of Route 50 and three pairs on the eastbound side.
SHA Media Relations Manager David Buck said this week the signs were installed in advance of a major intersection improvement project at Route 50 and Seahawk Rd. The intersection will be widened to create a double left turn from westbound Route 50 onto Seahawk Road to accommodate increased traffic and alleviate safety concerns. The additional left turn lane will be carved out of the existing grass median at the intersection and no changes will be made to the westbound traffic lanes.
The installation of the signs last week signals the project is ready to begin. Buck said the signs will likely be uncovered by the end of week or early next week and the actual roadwork will start shortly thereafter. Despite the cold temperatures and the return of snow this week, the project is almost ready to begin, but the persistent winter weather has pushed the timeline back.
“We’re used to starting these projects early in Worcester County and in and around the Ocean City area, but all of these winter storms have pushed everything back this year,” he said. “Everything has been slowed down, but we’re confident we’ll get caught up once the project actually begins.”
The project will likely create some traffic headaches for local commuters and visitors with temporary lane closures, particularly on the westbound side of Route 50. The work will likely continue into the early part of the summer.
“We’ll be working during the day up until May 15, and after that, we’ll be restricted only to night work. May 15 is always our target date for daytime work on projects in Worcester County because of the traffic in and out of Ocean City. Once we get passed May 15, only nighttime closures will be permitted on westbound Route 50.”
Buck said SHA is cognizant of the weekend traffic leaving the resort during the spring and no nighttime lane closures will take place on Sunday nights. He said the project will take several weeks and likely won’t be completed until early summer.
“We don’t think it will go into summer too far,” he said. “We’re hoping to get it wrapped up in early June or earlier. In the meantime, we’ll keep a close eye on special events like Springfest and adjust the work schedule and lane closure accordingly.”