Every meeting between Worcester County and the Maryland Department of Transportation is like watching a television re-run. The state outlines current initiatives and one or more county officials express disappointment that Route 589 has been bumped by Route 90 as the local priority project.
During last week’s meeting, SHA Administrator Will Pines informed the County Commissioners $15 million has been allocated for the preliminary study and engineering of Route 90 between Route 50 and Coastal Highway. Pines said the evaluation part of the project is complete and options are being evaluated. Other topics were discussed during the meeting like the new traffic signals on Route 113 and Germantown Road and on Route 589 near the new AGH medical building. Before the meeting wrapped, however, Commission President Chip Bertino, who lives in the Pines and represents the community, reiterated disappointment that major Route 589 improvements are not being considered by the state at this time. Bertino said he served on a stakeholder group 20 years created to consider future expansion of the roadway to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion throughout the year. He said, “We appreciate the fact that you put the light at AGH but that has not done anything more than compound a problem that has existed for quite a long time. To date nothing has been put in the budget to move that project forward. It’s very frustrating for the community of Ocean Pines and anybody who traverses that roadway.” Understanding no major improvements are in the near future, Bertino advocated for smaller projects to help with traffic congestion, saying, “You’d really come out as a rockstar if SHA actually did anything around there.”
While respect is shown to the concerns, as far as the state appears to be concerned, Route 90 is now the focus for major dollars with Route 113 dualization complete. Route 589 is on the back burner.
Another point out worth mentioning out of last week’s meeting has been reported previously. Assateague Road and Route 611 will soon be receiving a traffic light. It may be in place by next summer. There’s no question this light is needed during the season with the massive volume of campers turning north on Route 611 mixing with typical summer traffic.
The embarrassing riverboat saga continues for Worcester County. The fallout of the poor buy has fallen to Snow Hill, however, to sort through. It’s true Snow Hill bought the boat for $400,000 with the help of a loan from the county, but it was county officials who pushed to bring the boat to the south end in an attempt bring new economic life into Snow Hill. Hindsight confirms it was a horrible decision and better scrutiny was needed before the boat was acquired.
Moving forward, the Town of Snow Hill is looking to cuts its losses with the boat through a Request for Proposal process. Early attempts to sell the boat privately or possibly through a surplus property website have been pushed aside as legal counsel advised the RFP process was more appropriate for the town. The RFP was an interesting read this week, and here are a few highlights.
“With full transparency, the Town advises that the boat was purchased near the end of an active Coast Guard operating permit and that as part of the renewal process for that permit, serious deficiencies in the boat’s structure were discovered,” the RFP reads. “The Black-Eyed Susan was constructed in 1989 as a working stern-wheeled paddleboat featuring two decks for public enjoyment in a Victorian-decorated interior. In 2003, the boat’s length was extended from 87 feet to 111 feet. It draws 4 feet of water and is equipped with galley, restrooms and wet bars. … Note that during the past year, those cost estimates have likely increased substantially. Other specifications and material related to the boat is available upon request. The Mayor and Town Council have determined that the expense of repairing the boat, coupled with the estimated annual cost of maintenance and repair, have made continuing to own and operate the Black-Eyed Susan not in the best interests of the taxpayers and residents of Snow Hill.”
Scrolling through social media this week, it’s amazing to me how many people have personal Brooks Robinson stories to share. The affinity for Brooks seems rooted in his blue-collar approach, which was long a hallmark of Baltimore communities. Of course, he was an outstanding baseball player, and the impressive stats prove it. Every possible honor a field baseball player could receive he earned through his incredible career, including 16 straight Gold Gloves and 15 consecutive All-Star appearances.
Personally, I met Brooks in July of 1984 in Ocean City on 3rd Street. I never got to see him play, as he retired in 1977, but I did listen to hundreds of games he worked as a commentator for then-Home Team Sports. While he talked briefly about hitting at the Ocean City clinic, Brooks was most comfortable talking about fielding. He made playing the hot corner look easy and was the best fielding third baseman ever. My lasting memory from the few minutes I spent with him at the 3rd Street field was his humble, approachable way for being arguably the most popular and beloved Maryland sports figure of all time. He was 86 when he died Tuesday. There is a legacy of adults named Brooks in Maryland because of him.