OCEAN CITY – A representative with the State Highway Administration took time this week to address resort officials concerns regarding a design flaw in the proposed bike-friendly trail along the Route 50 corridor.
In December, members of the Mayor and Council questioned the State Highway Administration’s (SHA) plans for a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly trail along the Route 50 corridor in West Ocean City.
The trail, which spans the length of Route 50 from Route 611 to a block before the bridge, will cross at the light near Hooper’s Crab House and continue in a grassy area to the north of the highway until it reaches the bridge.
While the proposed trail is expected to accommodate residents, visitors and J-1 students living and working in West Ocean City, resort leaders questioned the wisdom of having the bike-friendly path cross a busy highway and onto the north side of the bridge, which has steps going down to the street level once in town.
Councilman Tony DeLuca, chairman of the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, broached the subject with SHA Assistant District Engineer Jana Potvin in a meeting this week.
“Three or four councilmembers said, ‘Why do we cross the street on Route 50 at Hooper’s?’” he said. “On the north side you have steps.”
Potvin noted the lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to the north as a driving factor in SHA’s decision.
“There are no pedestrian or bicycle facilities in front of Hooper’s,” she said. “The sidewalk stopped and then it picked up again at the Inlet.”
Potvin did, however, recognize bicycle and pedestrian options on the south side of Route 50. She said those who continue to walk or ride to the south can utilize Kelley Bridge Lane as well as the ramp onto Caroline Street.
“They can walk either way, but you are correct,” she told DeLuca. “On the north side you have steps and on the south side you have a ramp.”
Potvin said SHA will change proposed signage along the trail to inform pedestrians and bicyclists of options.
“Right now, the signage on the plans does direct people to cross the street,” she said, “but we are going to make sure it gives them a clearer message to what their options are.”
Potvin said officials will have to do their part to educate visitors and J-1 students on how to access the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge from Ocean City.
“We at State Highway Administration want to provide them all the legal options available to them and let them make the choice …,” she said. “Their legal choice is they ride in the lane or they walk on the sidewalk, and by the way if you walk on the south side you’ve got a ramp.”