OCEAN CITY — The north end of Ocean City is due for a major milling and repaving project on Coastal Highway next spring, but State Highway Administration (SHA) officials this week assured resort leaders the work would be completed before Memorial Day.
SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer and Assistant District Engineer Dallas Baker this week briefed the Mayor and Council on several projects slated for the resort area in its Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) for 2016 including a major repaving project for the north end of Ocean City. On Tuesday, Drewer said Coastal Highway from Route 90 to the Delaware line would be milled and repaved this spring as part of SHA’s ongoing enhancements along the resort’s main drag.
“We plan on overlaying the entire length of Coastal Highway from Route 90 to the Delaware line,” he said. “Hopefully, the paving will start around March 1, but a lot depends on the weather. Our drop-dead date to be finished is May 26, which hopefully gets us in before Memorial Day.”
Drewer explained the bid openings for the major project were expected as soon as this week and there were several elements, including the time constraints, written into the contract. For example, the contract includes milling and repaving of the side streets along the highway in the project area. Perhaps more importantly, the contract includes specific language about the duration of the project in general and the hours of the work each day.
“It is written into the contract there are certain weekends and certain dates they cannot work,” said Drewer. “For example, they likely wouldn’t be working on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, or the weekends when you’re hosting some of the car events.”
Still, with a tight schedule and a promised completion date before Memorial Day, Drewer said there would have to be some flexibility in the timetable. He envisioned the contractors working practically around the clock in some cases in order to meet the promised deadline.
“It’s a lot of work, and in order to pull this off, there might be some cases when the contractors are working 24 hours a day and even seven days a week,” he said. “It’s going to be a tight window, but we can make some revisions as we go in terms of the schedule. We’ll work with the town and the police department and various department heads as we move forward in order to alleviate any disruptions as much as possible.”
Complicating the milling and repaving project is the ongoing effort to make all of Ocean City’s sidewalks and intersections compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. SHA has been systematically upgrading the resort’s infrastructure including sidewalks and intersections, for example, to make them ADA-compliant and several projects along Coastal Highway in the north end could begin as soon as next week.
Drewer said the next phase of the ADA upgrades in the north end from Route 90 to the Delaware line will hopefully be completed in advance of the major repaving project, but there is a scenario when the projects could be going on simultaneously.
“The plan is to have that work completed before the repaving project begins, or at least have one side of the highway done and then come down the other, which would allow us to start milling and repaving,” he said. “By May, we expect to have all of the ADA work from Route 90 to the Delaware line completed.”
Drewer said the next phase of the ADA-compliance projects would include the section of Coastal Highway from Convention Center Drive to Route 90, although that section will likely be put on hold until another significant median improvement project aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety is completed.
“We’ll put off some of those ADA projects in that area until the pedestrian safety project is completed,” he said. “Some of those ADA projects will be completed before Memorial Day and some will have to be done after Memorial Day. By the end of 2016, all of Ocean City will be ADA compliant, however.”
In terms of the pedestrian safety enhancements to the median in the section of Coastal Highway from 9th Street to Convention Center Drive and from 140th Street to the Delaware line, Drewer explained the projects were still in the design phase and SHA would likely be able to present some of the proposed changes to the Transportation Committee later this month. The median improvements include increased landscaping and other features to deter mid-block crossings and other enhancements to improve pedestrian safety.
Drewer also provided an update on the proposed pedestrian and bicycle path improvements along Route 50 in West Ocean City. He explained the project, intended to improve pedestrian safety along the entrance to the resort, was moving along and the enhancements could be made as soon as next year.
“We think we have a good plan for that moving forward,” he said. “The design phase will take about a year, but it is currently funded for construction.”