OCEAN CITY — The ongoing median fence project along Coastal Highway will not greatly impact the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade next weekend, but an unforeseen challenge has put its Memorial Day completion date in jeopardy.
The project, along with the hotel construction at 45th Street Village, is not expected to have any adverse impacts on the festivities.
“The state was aware of the parade dates when the project was awarded,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “We do not anticipate any significant problems. The festival will take place as usual in the 45th Street Village and the layout will be modified to some extent to address the hotel construction on the west side of the property.”
Public Works Director Hal Adkins said this week he met with the SHA project manager and city officials to minimize the impact on the parade.
“The state is going out of its way to make it smooth for the parade,” he said. “They have agreed to move all of the barrels, both in the northbound and southbound lanes, out of the roadway and into the median. With all of the barrels in the median, that will keep the traffic lanes open and have the added benefit of preventing pedestrians from running across the highway in those areas before, during and after the parade.”
Adkins said SHA and its contractors were making other concessions to ensure safety during next weekend’s parade.
“It’s no small feat to halt a project of that size and move all of the barrels and equipment,” he said. “They also have those electronic message boards with construction notices, but they are going to use them to get information out about the parade.”
However, during the discussion about parade accommodations, it came to light the overall project suffered a minor setback that has created challenges completion date by Memorial Day. As it turns out, when contractors were attempting to install some of the support structures for the new fence and lighting system, they hit a concrete roadbed deep beneath the surface of the existing highway.
“That was unexpected,” SHA District Community Liaison Tanesha Hankerson said. “There is an old concrete roadbed under the existing highway and median we were not aware of. The contractors are working around that and the project plans have not changed. … We might have to work longer hours or extra days, but the plan is in place to still have the project completed by Memorial Day and in time for the summer season. The hope is with the weather expected to improve, they will be able to make up any lost time to that setback quickly.”