OCEAN CITY — Motorists on Coastal Highway can expect some delays next week in the area of Caine Woods as town officials work with the State Highway Administration (SHA) and a private utility company to determine the extent of the damage caused by a sink hole near 93rd Street.
In mid-May, SHA concluded a months-long $3.4 million resurfacing project on Coastal Highway from 62nd Street to the Delaware line ahead of schedule and in advance of the spring Cruisin’ event. However, just days later before the spring Cruisin’ weekend was over, a significant sink hole opened near the intersection of Coastal Highway and Arctic Avenue.
The conventional thinking is Sandpiper Energy, which is in the process of installing natural gas mains throughout many areas of the resort, likely struck the storm drain when it was directionally boring under the roadway in advance of the SHA project and the break went unnoticed until the sink hole formed in May. In any case, a steel plate has been in place on Coastal Highway near the intersection ever since, but next Tuesday and Wednesday crews are set to begin exploring the extent of the damage.
As a result, at least one lane on southbound highway and perhaps two will be closed while the damage is surveyed and plans for a repair are put in place, Public Works Director Hal Adkins told the Mayor and Council this week during a larger debate about a moratorium on directional boring.
“Starting next Tuesday, they are going to remove the plate and do some discovery to see what caused the problem,” he said. “I’m sure State Highway is going to be looking over their shoulder. We have to do it now rather than wait until September because there are safety issues. If a motorcycle hit that plate just the right way, it could cause an accident.”
When asked to estimate the extent of the damage and the length of the repair job, Adkins said he couldn’t be certain until the steel plate was removed.
“SHA will decide,” he said. “I can’t tell what they’ll find once they remove the plate, but my best guess would be something like a 10-foot by 10-foot patch.”
In response to a question about Coastal Highway being a state road and what about the town’s roads, Mayor Rick Meehan said there were always contingency plans in place.
“It’s not a perfect world and we are going to have situations from time to time when roads need to be repaired,” he said. “The important thing is to have a plan in place for when that happens.”