Philadelphia Avenue Curb Extensions Will Be Removed

OCEAN CITY – A resort committee heard an update this week on State Highway Administration projects taking place this fall, including a plan to remove several bump-outs along Philadelphia Avenue.

In an Ocean City Transportation Committee meeting last Tuesday, Public Works Director Hal Adkins provided the committee with an update on fall projects taking place in town ahead of the Mayor and Council’s bi-annual meeting with the State Highway Administration (SHA) on Nov. 13.

“I’ve got probably 12 or 13 maintenance-related projects that I’m working with State Highway on as we speak,” he said.

Among the SHA projects to take place this fall, Adkins said, was the removal of several bump-outs – or curb extensions – along Philadelphia Avenue from 9th Street to 15th Street. He said the removal could begin as early as this week and will precede an extensive paving project from 26th Street south to 1st Street.

“There are a series of bump-outs in the parking lanes on both sides,” he said. “They are going to be removing all of them at the request of the town when they put the pavement back. It positions the town, at a later date, to have discussions on pushing a dedicated transit lane farther south toward 9th Street if you choose to do so.”

Adkins said town staff will come before the Mayor and Council later this year to discuss the town’s capital improvement program and possible extension of the transit lane.

“I wanted to highlight the issue,” he said. “The reality of the matter is when all is said and done, if we choose not to push the transit lane farther south, we are still removing the bump-outs. They aren’t serving much of a purpose at all … Many of them have become minor roadway hazards for those who are not attentive drivers. They’ve also become trash traps.”

Adkins also told the committee town staff and SHA officials are working with the Maryland Department of Transportation to address design issues with ADA-compliant sidewalks and handicap ramps along Baltimore Avenue. He said the ramps currently found at crosswalks could pose a safety risk for pedestrians.

“Though they are rather unique looking in design and some feel they enhance the potential for injury for those that may not be watching where they are walking, they are actually federal ADA compliant …,” he said. “To try and simplify it, the depressed portion of the handicap ramp must be oriented in the direction of the designated crosswalk. What I am being told is the old-fashioned way where you fan and lower the whole corner all the way around is not federally ADA compliant because it is not directed at only the crosswalk. That’s why they came up with the designs we are now wrestling.”

Councilman Tony DeLuca also questioned what was being done to address the large gap at the bottom of the median fence along Coastal Highway. A video shared to social media earlier this year, for example, showed a pedestrian sliding underneath the fence instead of using the marked crosswalk.

“Weren’t we planning on lowering the fence in the fall?” he said.

Councilman Dennis Dare pointed out that SHA officials said they would address the issue if it proved to be a continual problem, but Council President Lloyd Martin said he had not witnessed any other issues.

“I don’t think we’ve had a problem with people going under the fence lately,” he said.

Mayor Rick Meehan also questioned the associated cost of lowering the fence panels.

“I would think the expense to do that would far exceed its usefulness,” he said.

Adkins noted, however, that the council could present the project to SHA officials at the November meeting.

“I guess following up with the police department would be our next step,” DeLuca said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.