OCEAN CITY – Despite a recommendation from town staff, a resort committee this week voted to keep an elevated walkway on St. Louis Avenue.
On Monday, the Ocean City Police Commission voted unanimously to keep a raised crosswalk on St. Louis Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets after recognizing it had a deterrent effect on speeding in the area.
In his presentation this week, City Engineer Terry McGean said the raised crosswalk was initially part of the proposed design for upgrades to the adjacent park.
“When the proposed design for the upgrades to the park at 3rd Street was underway, that design included a path that connected the two parks essentially,” he said, “the park between St. Louis and Philadelphia and then the park between St. Louis and the bay.”
When construction on St. Louis Avenue began, McGean said a raised crosswalk was installed, but the path was never placed on top of it.
“That path has never been installed and it does not appear it is going to be installed any time in the near future,” he said. “As a result, we have a raised crosswalk with no crosswalk. There is no rhyme or reason as to why that thing is there.”
McGean said several citizens initially complained about the raised walkway, but complaints have since given way to requests for speed bumps in other areas of town.
“What we have right now is a speed bump on St. Louis Avenue. It has long been the town policy not to install speed bumps …,” he said. “The problem I have with this thing now is we get calls on a fairly consistent basis, requests from the community, to install speed bumps.”
McGean said the walkway was not serving its intended purpose and recommended it be removed until plans for an elevated path progress.
“It’s setting a bad precedent now where people will say ‘You have one on St. Louis Avenue. Why can’t I have one on XYZ street?’” he said.
Councilman Matt James questioned the effect the removal would have on St. Louis Avenue.
“When you remove it, is there going to be a divot in the road?” he said.
McGean assured commission members the removal would have very little effect on the road’s condition.
For his part, Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said the walkway’s removal would have no significant impact to public safety.
“That street, and that general area, doesn’t have a problem day to day with traffic or speeding …,” he said. “We don’t anticipate any real change.”
Council Secretary Mary Knight, however, said she viewed the raised crosswalk as a reminder of nearby pedestrians.
“The only reason I liked it was because the skate park is there,” she said. “It did seem like a safety thing for the kids.”
Mayor Rick Meehan told McGean he had an opposing point of view.
“I refer to is as an elevated walkway not a speed bump because that’s what it was and what it is,” he said. “You do see people cross there, believe it or not. You also see the skateboarders use it as well. … It really does serve a purpose to alert people of pedestrians in that area. Since we’ve redone St. Louis Avenue we’ve seen more and more traffic on St. Louis than ever before, and it really does, in my opinion, serve notice of the fact that there is a playground there, there’s a lot of kids there and there are people around.”
James agreed, saying, “I’d hate to take it out and put another one back in in two or three years. Kids play there and it’s smart to get the cars to slow down.”
Council President Lloyd Martin, new president of the commission, echoed James’s sentiments.
“We paint it, spruce it up and go from there,” he said.
The commission voted unanimously to keep the raised crosswalk on St. Louis Avenue.