Once the massive dualization of Route 113 is complete, Worcester County will be at a key point when it comes to its major infrastructure needs and wants.
Delegate Mary Beth Carozza is right when she said the county will be at a “crossroads” when Route 113 is a four-lane, divided highway from the Delaware line south to Route 13.
At this point, local governments are not on the same page as far as what should be the next priority effort. For many years, the feeling was Route 113 is the top priority because it’s a deadly highway. With the completion of this critical project in sight within the next few years, it’s time for the county and its municipalities as well as Ocean Pines to get on the same page as far as what’s next.
It’s long been assumed the Route 50 Bridge would be the next major effort. As far as the state is concerned, funding to replace the Route 50 drawbridge has long been thought of as the county’s next priority infrastructure need. In fact, a lot of state funds has already been spent studying that effort.
Ocean City officials want that position to change. They want the dualization of Route 90 to be the next large effort in Worcester County. It’s a public safety concern, according to town officials, as well as a traffic issue. If an accident closes Route 90 during the height of the summer, traffic will ultimately become worse on Route 50, resulting in a difficult and time-consuming, if not impossible, commute for emergency services to transport injured individuals in need of hospital treatment.
Ocean Pines officials and residents would prefer Route 589 get serious attention. Traffic volume is clearly too much for this road in the summer months. In fact, it’s become a full-time concern for many as the Ocean Pines community obtains more and more year-round businesses along the corridor.
As of now, due to the funding already being spent creating the favored design of the new span, the Route 50 Bridge is officially the next major infrastructure project on the state’s radar at this time for Worcester County. We agree with Ocean City and Ocean Pines officials that it should not be. Whether Route 90 or Route 589 should leapfrog it is debatable and needs to be sorted out by the decision makers. The county needs to be unified when asking for state funding as it was 25 years ago when the fight was on to obtain funding for Route 113.
When the key voices are divided as they are now, nothing will get accomplished. There is time for a unified front to become a reality because the Route 113 project is still years from being completed. The problem is there are strong positions behind improvements to both Route 589 and Route 90, but one thing is for sure Worcester County will not get funding for both at the same time. It will have to pick one for significant work.