OCEAN CITY — The Mayor and Council heard an update last week on several State Highway Administration (SHA) projects in and around Ocean City including a plan to move the speed limit signs along Coastal Highway to the center median.
SHA District Engineer Jay Meredith and his staff briefed the Mayor and Council on a wide variety of projects from milling and paving along sections of Coastal Highway, the completion of new intersection improvements to meet ADA requirements, landscaping and guardrail improvements along Route 90 and the proposed median enhancement project that will ultimately include better lighting and dune-style fence down the center median in a known trouble spot for pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
Among the projects discussed was SHA’s plan to move the existing speed limit signs along Coastal Highway from the sidewalk areas on the side to the center median. Meredith explained the project was nearing completion and the new signs would be installed before Memorial Day weekend.
“I really like the idea of moving the speed limit signs to the center median,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “The general consensus is people probably can see them better in the median rather than on the side of the highway with all of the other signs over there. I think we’ll find people will get very familiar with them in the median and it will make a big difference.”
Meehan asked if there was any plan to remove the speed limit signs on the sides of Coastal Highway once the signs were installed in the median, but Meredith said it was SHA’s plan to keep them. Meehan urged SHA to consider removing the existing signs.
“I think they really get lost on the side of the road,” he said. “I’d like to see them removed.”
Councilman Matt James questioned if there was any formula for determining if the speed limit signs in the center median were achieving the desired results. Meredith said SHA had a variety of ways to determine their effectiveness.
“We look at crash data, gather public feedback and talk to local law enforcement,” he said. “We try to look at how the public is reacting and is it a positive thing.”
In terms of the center median fence project, the Mayor and Council approved the implementation of a dune-style fence along the center of Coastal Highway from Route 90 to the Convention Center as part of SHA’s continued efforts to improve pedestrian safety along the corridor. The median fence is expected to improve public safety in the known trouble spot section by forcing pedestrians to cross the highway at the marked crosswalks at street ends and not dash across in between blocks.
The first phase was originally proposed to be completed by Memorial Day of this year, but when the one and only bid for the project came in much higher than anticipated, the timeline for the first phase was moved back to next year with a new target completion date for Memorial Day 2018. Meredith said last Tuesday, the first phase of the median fence project was being combined with a repaving project for a vast section of Coastal Highway that was already planned for next offseason in order to expedite the project.
“We’re going to combine it with a planned milling and paving project from 62nd Street to 26th Street which was already planned in order to do it all at once,” he said. “You all know we put this out and didn’t have any successful bidders, so we’re combining it with this paving project. It should be funded for construction in June with a notice to proceed as soon as October.”
The eventual plan is to extend the dune-style median fence down the center of Coastal Highway from the Delaware line to 9th Street and this week, SHA officials unveiled the proposed phases. The second phase would go from Convention Center Drive to 26th Street and the third phase would go from 26th Street to 9th Street. Future phases would extend north from 62nd Street to the Delaware line although no firm timeline for the phasing has been established and it will largely depend on funding availability.