Governor Puts Route 90 Dualization On State’s Funding Fast Track

Governor Puts Route 90 Dualization On State’s Funding Fast Track
File photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Saturday that the state would advance improvements to Route 90.

Hogan, in Ocean City Saturday during the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference, said that the state’s Consolidated Transportation Plan (CTP) in September would include funding for the project planning phase for Route 90 improvements. Local officials have called for changes to the road for years.

“We’re thrilled,” Worcester County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said. “We weren’t even on State Highway’s radar for dualization before.”

During Hogan’s keynote address at the summer conference, which was held at the Roland E. Powel Convention Center, he said state officials would be rolling out a CTP with “unprecedented infrastructure investments” across the state.

“In fact, while we are here in Ocean City, I am pleased to announce for the first time here today that our new CTP will include funding for the planning of the long-awaited and desperately needed Maryland Route 90—the gateway to Ocean City—project,” Hogan said. “Maryland 90 is a top priority not only for safety, access, and the local economy, but also for its vital role in emergency response. We are very pleased to be taking this important step forward and we also look forward to working with each of you and your jurisdictions on all of the critical projects in your counties.”

Mitrecic said he wasn’t sure what had spurred Hogan’s interest in seeing Route 90 enhanced but that local officials had been advocating for improvements for years.

“We’re certainly pleased he recognized the need for it,” Mitrecic said.

Earlier in the week, Mitrecic and the rest of the commissioners approved a letter to be sent to the state outlining local transportation priorities—Route 90, the Route 50 drawbridge and Route 589. Route 90 has been a concern for years as one of the key entrances to Ocean City. In 2016, the road was closed due to a sinkhole at the same time an accident closed the Route 50 entrance to Ocean City, effectively cutting off the two main access points to the resort for a brief period of time. The narrow Route 90 bridge was again in the spotlight this year when a local man jumped off of it to rescue a toddler who’d fallen into the bay after a car accident left a vehicle dangling over the edge.

“Traffic congestion on MD 90 continues to worsen,” the commissioners’ letter to the Maryland Department of Transportation reads. “Ocean City has become a year-round tourist destination and development on the north end of Worcester County continues to see record growth in new home and business construction. MD 90 needs to be dualized to address the increased traffic demands.”

Acknowledging the scope of the project, the commissioners outlined a multi-phased approach that would include strengthening and widening the road’s shoulders, adding a center lane and fully dualizing the road.

The document also notes a new drawbridge on Route 50 and the dualization of Route 589 as needed improvements in Worcester County.

“Similar to MD 90, traffic congestion on US 50 continues to worsen,” the county’s letter reads. “In recent years, there are have been several incidents of the existing drawbridge getting stuck. With Ocean City serving as a year-round tourist destination, the US 50 drawbridge needs to be replaced with a more reliable structure and one that can accommodate the increasing traffic congestion issues.”

At the recommendation of Public Works Director Dallas Baker, the commissioners also included some smaller, less expensive projects on Worcester County’s priority list. They’d like to see the intersection at Route 611 and Route 376 signalized, along with the intersection and Route 367 and Route 368 in Bishopville.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.