OCEAN CITY — A major milling and repaving project for the north end of Coastal Highway is expected to get underway soon and already resort officials are bracing for the potential impacts.
In December, State Highway Administration (SHA) officials briefed the Mayor and Council on several projects slated for the resort in its Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) for 2016, including a major repaving project for the north end of Ocean City. Coastal Highway from 62nd Street to the Delaware line will be completely milled and repaved as part of the SHA’s ongoing enhancements along the resort’s main drag, and with it will come the requisite maze of orange barrels, lane closures, detours and altered traffic patterns.
When SHA officials pitched the concept to the Mayor and Council in December, it had not yet been put out to bid. The bid has since been awarded to George and Lynch and the project is tentatively scheduled to begin around March 1, weather permitting. Despite the size and scale of the major repaving project, SHA officials essentially guaranteed it would be completed by the Friday before Memorial Day.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins told the Transportation Committee the project would likely go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week in many cases, although there are certain dates built into the contract during which no work will be undertaken. Nonetheless, Adkins said the Memorial Day weekend target date is ambitious, although he had confidence in the contractor.
“It’s going to be an amazing accomplishment for them to get it done, but they will do it,” he said. “We’ve contracted with this company on numerous projects and if anyone can get it done, they can.”
In December, SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer explained there were several elements, including time constraints, written into the contract. For example, the contract includes milling and repaving the side streets in the project area. Perhaps more importantly, the contract includes specific language about the duration of the project in general and the hours of work each day.
Written into the contract are certain weekends and certain dates during which the contractor will not be allowed to work. For example, they won’t be working during St. Patrick’s Day weekend or on weekends when the resort is hosting vehicle-related special events.
Mayor Rick Meehan said the project will vastly improve Coastal Highway from mid-town to the Delaware line, but with it will come some obvious headaches for motorists, and likely business owners.
“The good news is, it’s going to make Coastal Highway one of the best highways in the state,” he said. “The bad news is, there is no magic wand. It’s going to create some inconvenience and it’s going to create some disruption, and we want to let everyone know up front what it is and when it’s going to happen.”
Adkins said because of the vast scope of the project, and the time constraints and tight Memorial Day weekend deadline, motorists will likely have to endure some alterations in their normal travel habits in the resort.
“They will most likely mill out two lanes at a time and maybe a mile at a time, then follow right behind with the repaving,” he said. “As a result, the traffic patterns are going to be unique to say the least.”
Nonetheless, Meehan said the major headaches would be worth it when the project is completed, compared to the alternative.
“We all drive throughout the state and we all see the condition of some of the roadways,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have this project despite the anticipated inconvenience.”