OC’s Boardwalk Safety Project Enters Final Stretch

OC’s Boardwalk Safety Project Enters Final Stretch
Steel and concrete barriers are pictured under construction at a Boardwalk street end on Tuesday. Photo by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY — The second phase of the Boardwalk access control project continues to move along with many streets completed and the entire process expected to be completed before Memorial Day.

Over the last several years, there have been a handful of incidents in the U.S. and abroad when terrorists have killed and injured dozens of victims by crashing trucks and other vehicles into areas where large groups of people gather.

Late last month, a suspected terrorist allegedly stole a U-Haul and planned to run over people in crowded areas around National Harbor, according to court documents. The ISIS-inspired plot was foiled when Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown, Md., was seen March 28 on surveillance video exiting a U-Haul truck reported stolen on March 28 from a mall parking garage in Alexandria, Va. He later confessed to FBI personnel he planned to drive into a crowd of people at National Harbor and not stop.

Naturally, the Boardwalk in Ocean City in the summer fits that description and there were dozens of access points where an ill-intending vehicle could reach the famed promenade and its large crowds.

To that end, about two years ago Ocean City officials began exploring a series of permanent and semi-permanent barrier systems from gated access points that would allow police, fire and emergency services to access the Boardwalk to heavy planters, bollards and other barriers. The first phase was completed before the start of last summer as a stopgap measure of sorts to ensure something was in place. The first phase was admittedly not aesthetically pleasing, but served its purpose until the larger, more permanent second phase is installed.

Earlier this year, the Mayor and Council approved a bond sale to finance the roughly $2.5 million second-phase of the Boardwalk access control project and the work has been taking place in earnest through much of the later winter and early spring. For many of the streets along the Boardwalk from which vehicles in the part could access the famed promenade, the improvements include a series of steel pipe barriers filled with concrete.

In most cases, those steel and concrete barriers are in place although they aren’t finished aesthetically. City Engineer Terry McGean said this week those barriers will be covered with a decorative sleeve. Thus far, 10 of the 15 streets with the steel and concrete barriers are complete. Four more streets with those types of barriers will be completed in the coming days, with concrete expected to be poured at 14th, 23rd, 24th and a portion of 27th streets on Saturday. On Monday, the contractors are expected to finish the barriers at 18th Street and the rest of 27th Street.

During the first full week of May, manual gates that will allow police, fire, EMS and beach patrol access, will be installed at the Inlet lot, South 1st Street, North Division Street and 17th, 21st, 22nd and 26th streets. The Inlet lot work will begin right after Springfest, according to McGean.

Finally, powered gates with access for the various emergency services will be installed during the third week of May on the Boardwalk at Dorchester Street and 3rd Street. McGean said this week the entire project is

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.