Route 50 Utility Project Comments Sought

BERLIN — The federal Army Corps of Engineers is currently seeking public comment on a proposed Delmarva Power project that will, if approved, upgrade a major electric power transmission line between Berlin and West Ocean City.

Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the public comment period on the proposed project, which would ultimately replace and upgrade the major transmission from the Culver substation on the corner of Golf Course Rd. and Old Bridge Rd. in West Ocean City to the Berlin substation on Old Ocean City Blvd. in Berlin. The public comment period on the project in general, and its potential impacts on tidal and non-tidal wetland areas along the project corridor remains open until Jan. 12.

Delmarva Power plans to replace 143 aging wooden utility poles with 75-foot to 85-foot tall single-pole steel structures. The steel replacement poles would be erected in close proximity to the existing wooden poles and would be driven into the ground in some cases, or placed within an eight-foot in diameter poured concrete foundation in many other cases. Delmarva Power conducted a similar project in Ocean City along Coastal Highway last year.

The project would cover roughly 7.5 miles between Berlin and West Ocean City and the transmission line upgrade and utility pole replacement would follow a 50-foot to 150-foot wide right-of-way loosely south of the Route 50 corridor. The Army Corps is seeking public comment on the proposal because the project has the potential to impact many sensitive wetland areas along tributaries to the coastal bays including Herring Creek, Ayers Creek and Kitts Branch, for example.

The project would include the installation of 34 single-pole steel structures within designated non-tidal wetlands and two more within designated tidal wetlands.

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Nonetheless, the project would permanently impact roughly 149 square feet of non-tidal wetlands and 100 square feet of tidal wetlands. All in all, the project would result in the conversion of roughly 2,147 square feet of forested tidal wetlands to scrub-shrub tidal wetlands during the construction phase, which would be maintained by tree clearing every three- to four years.

Much of the work would be accomplished by heavy equipment, the impact of which would be mitigated by interlocking rubber mats in the project area.
Anyone wishing to comment is encouraged to reach out to the Army Corps in writing at the Baltimore District, P.O. Box 1715, Baltimore, Md. 21203 by Jan. 12.