OCEAN CITY — The long-awaited dune-style median fence and enhanced street lighting project for Coastal Highway is expected to begin in mid-October with an anticipated completion date prior to the next summer season.
For over a year, Ocean City officials have been coordinating with the State Highway Administration (SHA) on a project that will install a dune-style median fence down the center of Coastal Highway from Route 90 to the Convention Center as part of a larger continued effort to improve pedestrian safety along the corridor. The median fence is expected to improve public safety in the known troubles spot section of Coastal Highway which historically has seen the most pedestrian-vehicle collisions by forcing pedestrians to cross the highway at marked crosswalks at street ends and not dash across in between blocks.
The project, which is being designed, constructed and paid for by SHA with a budget of around $4.5 million for the initial phase, features an undulating fence down the center median of Coastal Highway mimicking the iconic fences along the dunes in Ocean City complete with the appropriate landscaping to complete the illusion. No less important is remarkably improved lighting along the corridor with higher wattage LED lights on poles in the center median.
The project was approved by the Mayor and Council last year and was on an aggressive track for completion before the 2017 summer season before setbacks in the bidding process stalled it. Just one bid was received for the project last winter that came in significantly over budget, so the project was put out to bid again and moved back to this fall for a start date.
SHA District Engineer Denny Todd said this week a pre-construction meeting was scheduled for this week at the convention center to iron out some of the project’s final logistics and a notice to proceed signaling the start of the construction phase could come as soon as Oct. 17. During a strategic planning work session on Wednesday, Public Works Director Hal Adkins confirmed the start date for the median fence project and associated lighting enhancements was on target for Oct. 17 and the plan was to have the first phase completed by mid-May in advance of the next summer season.
The long-term plan is to construct the median fence from one end of the town to the other. The second phase is tentatively proposed for the section from the Convention Center south to around 26th Street. A third phase would run from 26th Street south to 9th Street. After that, the plan is to start working north from Route 90 to the Delaware line. Of course, funding issues will likely determine the timetable for future phases, but resort officials have repeatedly asked SHA to find a way to keep the momentum going after the first phase is complete.