Coastal Highway Work To Begin Next Week

OCEAN CITY — With the weather suddenly taking a turn for the better, a major milling and repaving project for the north end of Coastal Highway is expected to begin next week with a target completion date of Memorial Day weekend.

In December, State Highway Administration (SHA) officials briefed the Mayor and Council on several projects slated for the resort this spring, including a major repaving project for the north end of Coastal Highway from 62nd Street to the Delaware line. The highway will be completely milled down and repaved as part of SHA’s ongoing efforts to enhance the resort’s main drag, and with it will come the requisite maze of orange barrels, lane closures, detours and altered traffic patterns.

The work is expected to begin as soon as next week. When the project was first pitched in December, the target start date was March 1, weather permitting. Nonetheless, despite the size and scale of the major repaving project, SHA officials essentially guaranteed it would be completed by the Friday before Memorial Day, a goal that still appears to be within grasp.

SHA officials have said the work will likely go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week in many cases. Built into the contract are certain dates during which SHA crews will not be allowed to work, such as when Ocean City hosts vehicle-related special events.

The state-funded $3.4 million resurfacing project for Coastal Highway will include an estimated 34,000 tons of new asphalt along the 4.7-mile stretch. Perhaps the most prominent feature of the project is the vast amount of striping and other markings included at the end of the repaving. With dedicated bus and bike lanes and marked crosswalks about every four blocks, the project includes 90,000 linear feet of new striping and another 8,300 square feet of new symbols and letters.

SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer said this week the vast amount of striping and symbols on the highway are part of the SHA’s commitment to the “Walk Smart” pedestrian safety program in Ocean City and are nearly as important as the repaving of the highway itself.

“SHA engineers continually look to improve safety by re-timing signals, enhancing turning movements at intersections, painting ‘no pedestrian crossing’  curb stencils and installing signs along key areas on Coastal Highway to direct pedestrians to crosswalks,” he said. “The engineering efforts, coupled with the educational partnership between SHA, the town of Ocean City and its police, and business and community leaders has made a difference in keeping people safe while visiting the beach.”

Meanwhile, the public later this month will have the opportunity to weigh in on the final design of the somewhat controversial dune-style fence down the center median of Coastal Highway in a section known as a trouble spot for pedestrian safety. In January, the Mayor and Council approved the final design for the aesthetically appealing dune-style fence down the median of Coastal Highway from Convention Center Drive to Route 90. The proposed project appears to accomplish the goal of improving pedestrian safety with a uniquely Ocean City median fence, but not everyone was entirely pleased with the final design when it was approved in January.

The design approval in January set in motion a timetable that could have the fence installed by the start of the 2017 summer season, but an important next step in the process is a public meeting conducted by SHA to present the final design to the public and answer any questions or concerns they may have.

That meeting has now been set for March 22 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center beginning at 6 p.m.