Ocean City Today

Securing OC Boardwalk

Council agrees to hire firm to design protections that include retractable barriers
By Katie Tabeling | Nov 16, 2017

(Nov. 17, 2017) Safety barricades of some sort appear to be destined for specific entrances to the Ocean City Boardwalk, following the City Council’s agreement Tuesday to seek an engineering firm to design a plan for their placement.

What the council wants, however, is not just a row of bollards that would prevent vehicles from driving onto the boards, but some that would be retractable at the press of a button  to allow emergency vehicles fast, uncomplicated access.

The plan, City Engineer Terry McGean told the council at its work session, is to eventually install barricades at the 36 access points on the Boardwalk by summer 2019. That way no one would be able to drive a car through a crowd.

Eight locations would need manual or automated barriers because “the frequent need for police, EMS, fire department, Beach Patrol and public works (to have access).” Other areas could be fixed with concrete planters and concrete bollards.

“These barriers, in order for them to do the job, would need to be able to stop a medium-sized U-Haul truck,” McGean said. “Based on the speed it could attain, if it started on Baltimore Avenue or Philadelphia Avenue, it could reach 30-40 mph before reaching the Boardwalk.”

The same truck driving at 40 mph would produce 400,000 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, he said.

McGean estimated the project would cost approximately $1 million, since large concrete planters to stop a fast-moving truck would cost $1,000 apiece, while the bollards would cost $250,000. He also recommended that 10 barricades be installed per street.

Automated or locking gate doors would cost between a quarter-million dollars and $800,000, depending on the combination of barrier types.

“It’s a lot more than putting up a wooden barrier,” McGean said. “Our policy in the past is to elevate streets to have better emergency access and pedestrian flow onto the Boardwalk … now we’re looking at something that’s become a concern in light of recent events.”

By next summer, there will be a combination of temporary and permanent barriers planted on the Boardwalk. That will offer some protection while resort officials work on a long-term solution for 2019.

The council voted 6-0 to proceed with the requests for proposals for the project, with an expected notice-to-proceed to be issued on Jan. 8. The council also agreed to set aside $80,000 from fund balance, the resort’s emergency fund, to pay for the designs. Councilman John Gehrig was absent.

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