Pines Officials Explore Creation Of Route 90 Workgroup

OCEAN PINES – Association officials this week shared plans for creating a subcommittee or workgroup to assist with the Route 90 improvement project.

On Wednesday, Director Amy Peck, board liaison for the Ocean Pines Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC), presented the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors with a recommendation to create a subcommittee that would assist with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Route 90 project.

Peck said the idea was to create a group that would establish communications with state and federal officials and advocate for the community as plans to improve safety, access and congestion along the Route 90 corridor advance.

“We don’t want to be reactive or behind the curve,” she said, “or have multiple representatives that confuse the line of communication.”

In recent years, the dualization of Route 90, which spans from Route 50 to Coastal Highway, has been the top transportation priority for both Worcester County and Ocean City. And in 2021, Gov. Larry Hogan announced MDOT State Highway Administration would advance improvements to Route 90, with $850,000 allocated in the state’s Consolidated Transportation Plan to fund a planning phase.

But efforts did not end there. Last month, the governor joined with state and local officials at the base of the Route 90 bridge to announce that $15 million in funding would be dedicated to improving safety, access and congestion along the 12-mile corridor. As Route 90 cuts through the Ocean Pines community, association officials this week argued the creation of a workgroup was needed.

“I think it will definitely spur discussions and good recommendations that we can bring forward,” said Director Doug Parks.

The recommendation presented to the board this week calls for a subcommittee consisting of representatives from SPAC, the environmental committee, the recreation and parks committee and a board liaison, as well as volunteers with backgrounds in transportation engineering. The subcommittee, Peck noted, would report to SPAC.

“This is going to be such a long-term project and will outlive many terms …,” she said. “So it’s nice to have a central voice that will be involved in the project.”

When asked how long the subcommittee would remain active, officials said it would be years. President Colette Horn questioned if the general manager should be tasked with forming a workgroup comprised of staff.

“These are three-year committee terms. There’s potentially quite a bit of turnover …,” she said. “I’m thinking that this may be better belonging to the staff. Maybe the general manager would be the central figure and would have a workgroup made up of staff … I think the staff is going to be more stable than the board or committees.”

Director Josette Wheatley said regardless of how a workgroup was formed, the community needed to establish communication with MDOT.

“For bike lanes, etc., there should be someone working on it now, to better our community …,” she said. “Either way, I agree a group of individuals should be a go-to for us.”

Director Frank Daly also encouraged General Manager John Viola to reach out to MDOT.

“Before we do anything, since the MDOT manager said he would like to hear from the community, I would have John reach out and ask what timeframe he’s expecting,” he said. “I’ve only dealt with MDOT twice … They will take the advice they want, in what form they want, and when they want to.”

Horn said the next step would be to gather input from the general manager.

“Let’s see what proposal he and his staff could come up with,” she said. “I also agree with Frank, let’s reach out to state and see what form and timeframe they are thinking.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.