OCEAN CITY – The resort will begin seeking proposals early next year for the development of a bike strategic plan.
On Wednesday, the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee concluded its review of a Request for Proposal (RFP) document seeking engineering services for the development of a strategic bike plan. The bidding process, set to begin early next year, will solicit proposals from consultants for developing biking infrastructure within the resort’s corporate limits.
“I think we’ll generate a lot of interest in our project,” said Committee President Paul Mauser.
In October, the town was awarded $79,700 through the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Bikeways Program to hire a consultant for the development of a strategic plan that will be used to further Ocean City’s bicycle network.
In recent years, the resort has embarked on a multi-phased initiative to install a continue bike route from one end of Ocean City to the other without using Coastal Highway and other busy thoroughfares. And by and large, the resort has succeeding in establishing paths using side streets, alleys, parking lots and more.
But Mauser told committee members this week the town is now seeking a consultant for the development of a strategic plan, which would outline designs and cost estimates for proposed biking corridors.
“We’ve hit the point where we need to hire a professional consultant to continue developing …,” he said.
Mauser noted the scope of work for the RFP document includes providing project plans and cost estimates for six corridors – town alleys from 27th to 62nd streets, town alleys from 62nd to 94th streets, the 94th Street cul-de-sac to the beach, a construction easement from 94th to 118th streets, a Delaware connector in north Ocean City and Coastal Highway.
“This is our pie-in-the-sky dream …,” he said of the Coastal Highway biking corridor. “I suspect it would be a large dollar amount.”
Mauser also noted the challenges of getting property owners to support the use of a 10-foot construction easement to the west of the dunes. Officials noted the oceanside blocks from 94th to 118th streets – dubbed “condo row” – were fully developed with no other viable opportunities for installing biking infrastructure.
“I think that’s going to be a point of emphasis for council’s consideration,” Mauser said. “There may be some negative feedback from property owners in this area. They may not want to see this.”
A panel consisting of Mauser, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville and Engineering Manager Terry McGean is expected to select the top firm once bidding concludes in mid-February.
Mauser told members this week the project would be awarded to the top consultant by March 1, with a Notice to Proceed being issued no later than March 15.
“It has to be completed by December 31,” he said of the project.
Mauser added that awarding the project in March would give the consultant time to develop a bike project for the next application round of the MDOT Bikeways grant program.
“We can select one of our six corridors that are outlined in the scope of work and have the consultant fast track that specific corridor, develop 100% of plans and submit those plans for the next grant in 2021,” he said. “That way we aren’t missing a grant year.”
Mauser noted that creating a Delaware connector bike path at 146th Street would be the easiest project.
“I noted 146th Street as the low-hanging fruit …,” he said. “It’s only a half-mile connection.”