Coalition To Discuss Route 90 Bike, Pedestrian Access

OCEAN CITY – Heretofore, conceptual plans for the eventual dualization of the Route 90 corridor have not included bicycle or pedestrian-friendly amenities, but one local group is seeking to at least consider them.

After years of pushing for improvements to the Route 90 corridor, a major access and egress point for Ocean City, progress is slowly being made. In 2021, Governor Larry Hogan announced funding for the Route 90 improvements, including a likely dualization, would be included in the state’s consolidated transportation plan, putting the project at least on the state’s books for planning and design purposes.

To that end, the Maryland Department of Transportation-State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) has prepared a handful of alternatives for future improvements to Route 90, including one alternative that represents the biggest departure from the existing roadway. It calls for a four-lane dualized highway and includes constructing a two-lane roadway to the north or south of the existing roadway with a wide grass median in between.

MDOT SHA has initiated a survey to receive public input and comments about the proposed alternatives currently on the table and the survey expires on Nov. 10. While none of the alternatives include bicycle or pedestrian access, a local grassroots group is seeking to have those at least part of the discussion.

The Worcester County Bike and Pedestrian Coalition this week fired off a letter to elected officials in Worcester County, including the county commissioners and the county’s representatives in Annapolis seeking consideration for biking and pedestrian elements in the final design or at least a seat at the table. Worcester Bike and Pedestrian Coalition chair Patti Stevens, who is also the Eastern Shore representative for the Maryland Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, authored the letter to the county’s leadership.

“At a presentation to the Worcester County planning commission earlier this month, I mentioned that the Route 90 corridor project is of significant and immediate interest to those who live, work, visit, bike and walk around Worcester County, including the Bike and Pedestrian Coalition,” the letter reads. “The public survey on the MDOT project page offers an opportunity for individuals to provide input on possible lane configurations for the Route 90 corridor, and the summer meeting allowed people to ask questions about the project, but to date, there has not been a community focused dialogue about the impacts and opportunities of this project.”

Stevens said there was precedent for local communities holding open houses and public workshops for input on significant roadway projects.

“Recently, the Fenwick Planning Commission hosted a public symposium to invite public comment and input on similar issues around Coastal Highway, and the Delaware Regional Planning Authority has hosted similar public forums in the development of an extensive and heavily-used walk and bike network there,” the letter reads. “Bridge and highway projects around the country that have successfully integrated bike and pedestrian access have all included robust involvement of the communities and jurisdictions around them.”

To that end, Stevens said the Worcester County Bike and Pedestrian Coalition is hosting a public forum next week in Ocean Pines to invite local residents to weigh in on the Route 90 proposed alternatives in advance of the close of the public comment period on Nov. 10.

“With these examples in mind, the Worcester County Bike and Pedestrian Coalition is hosting a community meeting on November 2 at the Ocean Pines Library at 6 p.m. with the hope of raising awareness of successful multimodal transportation projects and fostering positive discussion and interest among community members and elected officials,” she said, “including from the Ocean Pines Association, Ocean City and other jurisdictions, as well as the county and state prior to the close of the public comment period for the Route 90 bridge planning, which is November 10.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

Alternative Text

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.