OCEAN CITY — Getting the Boardwalk trams across Philadelphia Avenue from the new public works facility at 3rd Street continues to create challenges, but it doesn’t appear a request new traffic signal is in the works any time soon.
Each day throughout the summer, the trams will have to cross Philadelphia Avenue and ultimately Baltimore Avenue to reach the Boardwalk and return at night to the new transit facility on St. Louis Avenue.
At different times over the last two years or so, Ocean City has asked the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to install a traffic signal at 3rd Street and Philadelphia Avenue, but thus far the idea has had little traction. Even before the tram operation moved to the new facility from its old home downtown at the Whiteside facility, resort officials suggested a new signal at 3rd Street was warranted due to traffic volume.
Each time the town has requested the new signal, MDOT officials have said traffic studies show it is not warranted. Now, with the Boardwalk tram operation moving to the 3rd Street facility, it is perhaps needed more than ever, but progress has been slow. During a Transportation Committee meeting this month, Public Works Director Hal Adkins said the traffic signal discussion continues between Mayor Rick Meehan and MDOT Secretary Greg Slater, and it remains a possibility, but he is proceeding with a Plan B of sorts for this summer.
“I have to be in summer mode now,” he said. “I don’t think it’s realistic to think a traffic light is suddenly going to appear at 3rd Street before the summer.”
Adkins said his contingency plan includes stopping traffic along Philadelphia Avenue during the morning and night to allow the Boardwalk trams to cross.
“We’re preparing a backup plan to cross Philadelphia Avenue,” he said. “We’re actually going to have to stop traffic to get the trams across. It might be our people in vests or we could work with the police department on assistance in the morning and at night when we have to get the trams across … I’m not trying to go all over downtown to cross Philadelphia Avenue. Maybe we find a routine where we cross every morning at 9 a.m., for example, to minimize impacts on traffic and on other departments.”