OCEAN CITY- Ocean City officials this week voted to convey four acres of municipally-owned property along Route 90 back to the State Highway Administration (SHA) several decades after taking ownership of the parcel.
The Mayor and Council on Monday approved on second reading an ordinance that will convey the roughly four-acre tract along the north side of Route 90 west of Ocean Pines back to SHA. In 1975, SHA deeded the parcel to the town of Ocean City after completing the Route 90 project, which is one of the main access routes to the resort from the mainland.
In the years leading up to the development or Route 90, SHA acquired numerous parcels in the north end of Worcester County in anticipation of the project. When the Route 90 project was completed, SHA transferred ownership of some of the parcels adjacent to the new right-of-way that were not needed for the project to either Ocean City or Worcester County.
City Solicitor Guy Ayres explained on Monday the four-acre parcel in question is considered surplus property no longer needed for any public use by the town of Ocean City, which is why it was being conveyed back to the state over four decades later.
“This is a piece of property the state donated to Ocean City around 40 years ago,” he said. “It could possibly be used to widen Route 90 at some point, which you know has been the subject of many discussions.”
Ocean City has been pushing SHA to move the proposed eventual dualization of Route 90 further up the priority list for state highway projects in Worcester County. In October, resort officials went to Snow Hill to reiterate their desire for the dualization of Route 90 during Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) annual update on county highway projects. When SHA officials appeared before the Mayor and Council last month, the push for dualizing Route 90 was advanced again.
For years, Ocean City officials have expressed their desire to see Route 90 improvements, including expanding the highway and its bridges from the current two lanes to four to ease access in and out of the resort for the public, and perhaps more importantly emergency services including fire apparatus and ambulances, for example. Ocean City officials have said dualizing Route 90 would improve traffic flow, particularly in the summer months, and improve public safety during emergencies or evacuations.