OCEAN CITY — Concerned with the impact on the downtown area of a new Public Works facility at St. Louis Avenue and 2nd Street, resort officials are again asking the State Highway Administration (SHA) to install a new traffic signal at 3rd Street and Philadelphia Avenue.
Last year, the town and its Public Works Department began planning a new public works facility at 2nd Street and St. Louis Avenue on a large parcel the city had acquired. The new facility will eventually replace the existing downtown public works complex at South First Street, which is nearing the end of its useful life.
The new facility at 2nd Street will serve, among other things, as the new staging and maintenance area for the Boardwalk trams. It will also house the beach cleaning operation along with other public works functions in the downtown area. It will be built on a property the town acquired last year for around $2 million.
During the planning of the new public works facility, the desire for a new traffic signal at 3rd Street and Philadelphia Avenue was revisited. Concerns have been raised about the impact of the new facility at 2nd Street on traffic in the downtown area during the summer season.
In the past, the town has asked SHA to install a traffic signal at 3rd Street in addition to the existing signals at 5th Street and 2nd Street, pointing out how traffic stacks up on most summer days and nights providing little opportunity for vehicles attempting to access Philadelphia Avenue from the side streets downtown. At many times, traffic stacks up back to St. Louis Avenue during peak times.
However, SHA has previously denied the town’s request for a new traffic signal at 3rd Street. In SHA’s original traffic study of the area, a new signal at 3rd Street did meet one of the state agency’s criteria for a new signal, but SHA determined there was adequate gaps in traffic during peak times and a new signal was not warranted.
However, that study was conducted before the proposed public works facility on 2nd Street was on the table and the potential impacts of the new Boardwalk tram operation.
The town has commissioned its own study for a new traffic signal at 3rd Street conducted by The Traffic Group, a noted traffic consultant used on many roadway projects in the region. That study revealed not enough gaps of sufficient duration at 3rd Street and recommended a new traffic signal. As a result, City Engineer Terry McGean is going back to SHA and again request a new signal at 3rd Street.