Despite Ocean City and Worcester County officials actually agreeing it should be a priority, the dualization of Route 90 is basically a pipedream at this time.
For at least five years, Ocean City has been trying to convince Worcester County and the state to prioritize Route 90 ahead of the Route 50 Bridge replacement project. There was little progress in convincing the county folks for a while, but there appears to be a consensus among the county and city now that widening Route 90 is more important than replacing the Route 50 Bridge. The problem is the state is not on board in the last bit at this time.
During last week’s review of ongoing and future transportation projects in the county, Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said the local priorities were completing Route 113’s dualization in the south end, repairs to the Route 50 Bridge, some minor projects around the county and a roundabout study for Route 589 at the Ocean Pines North Gate. Since Route 90 was not even on the radar, Rahn was questioned as to why. He responded, “We will try to work on innovative ways to address it but we really are running into problems with cost.”
This is unfortunate but it’s not a surprise to anyone. It was certainly a long shot for Route 90 to get on the state’s funding radar this quickly. Dualizing the long stretch of Route 90 and enlarging the two bridges along it will rival the Route 113 project in expenses. It will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to carry out and take years. Other projects around the state are simply demanding the state’s attention more than this effort. I don’t personally see that changing anytime soon.
Nonetheless, the state certainly needs to understand what local officials are saying when they point out it’s foolish to replace the Route 50 Bridge without a better plan in place for Route 90. If the Route 50 Bridge were to be reconstructed, it would obviously be a major undertaking as well. With that project would come the obvious questions about how motorists would enter and leave Ocean City. Route 50 is certainly the most popular option at this time and traffic studies confirm that. Route 90 would become the primary means of ingress and egress out of Ocean City followed by Routes 54 and 1 in Delaware. This will be a nightmare for all of these roads, especially the two-laned Route 90. It would surely backup throughout Ocean City as well as on Route 50.
The state needs to understand the bridge cannot be replaced without more lanes on Route 90. It just will not work. One thing is for sure at this time, however. The Route 90 dualization effort is going nowhere.
It seems like months of ridiculousness has surrounded the 64th Street water tower painting project in Ocean City. I think Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman is right when he said the tower painting is “the most debated thing we’ve done in a long time.”
The City Council decided in a 4-3 vote this week to essentially repaint the tower as it is today with the same message, logo and stripe. An earlier motion for no stripe failed in a 3-4 vote.
In keeping with too much thought going into this water tower’s appearance, we conducted a fun and informal poll on our Facebook this week. We asked readers to opine with a “like” or a “heart” whether they supported the blue water tank with a stripe or no stripe. As of yesterday at 3 p.m., the striped look was ahead 145-86, for what it’s worth.