Ocean City Today

SHA promise: we’ll be done by Memorial Day

It may not look like it now, but all work on Coastal Highway nears completion
By Greg Ellison | May 03, 2018
Photo by: Greg Ellison Wrapping up Coastal Highway road and median repairs by Memorial Day was a recurring message shared by Jane Potvin, assistant district engineer of traffic, left, Brett Beane, assistant district engineer of construction and District One Engineer Jay Meredith, during a state highway spring update for the City Council on Tuesday.

By Greg Ellison

Staff Writer

(May 4, 2018) Ending projects by Memorial Day was a recurring theme during the State Highway Administration’s spring update for the City Council on Tuesday.

Jay Meredith, state highway district one engineer, opened a lengthy review of current and proposed projects by immediately turning the microphone over to Brett Beane, assistant district engineer of construction, for the latest information on median and paving work on Coastal Highway between 26th and 62nd streets.

“We’re still on track for the Memorial Day deadline,” Beane said. “We’re going to move heaven and earth if need be to do this.”

Tandem crews will begin laying new paving on Monday, Beane said.

“If we have to work long hours [or] switch to some nighttime paving, we are going to complete this project for the town of Ocean City,” he said.

Turning to the median enhancement project, Beane said all fence posts and light poles are installed, with panels coming next.

“Fence panels … we’re actually going to have our first delivery of about one third of those coming this weekend and we’ll start that work next week,” he said.

Councilman Tony DeLuca asked about the status of roadwork during the upcoming Springfest.

“We’re not going to have any lane closures this weekend,” Beane said.

Councilwoman Mary Knight said she had received numerous emails about the number of new median lighting poles and arms.

Meredith said state highway is installing LED lighting, which is energy efficient and provides superior illumination.

“I think once you see them on, you’ll be very pleased,” he said. “The important thing is none of us lose focus on the reason why that fence is there and that’s to save lives.”

City Engineer Terry McGean said once the LED lighting goes live, the city could consider removing a number of current lights along Coastal Highway.

“The ones where you can cross, the lights on the edge [that] we pay the electric bills on, those stay, but the ones mid-block go away,” he said.

Councilman Dennis Dare added that the LED lighting might override the traditional lighting on Coastal.

“When the new lights are energized, since they’re higher and brighter, they may trick the photo cells into thinking it’s still daytime and they may not come on,” he said.

Returning to an earlier theme, Beane said the median LED lighting should be working by Memorial Day.

“[Memorial Day,] that’s the secret word right now,” Meredith quipped.

Looking ahead to the possibility of expanding the median fence, Meredith said state highway would work in conjunction with Ocean City to evaluate plans.

“We have to see what type of feedback that we get [and] if it proves to be a safety enhancement,” he said. “We’re not committed to do any until we have the information needed to make that judgment.”

Speaking of more concrete plans, Beane provided a preview of planned paving work on Coastal Highway next year.

“Next spring we’ll be paving from the joint where we finished this season on 26th Street, all the way down to Route 50,” he said.

Other topics covered during the update included:

• Route 90 dualization:

Meredith told the council the vetting process for transportation projects costing at least $5 million is now under the domain of the Maryland Department of Transportation following the passage of Senate Bill 307 in April 2017.

“There is a new SHA policy we are becoming familiar with ourselves,” he said. “There’s a ranking system now to determine priorities.”

The department scoring model became effective in December.

Meredith said although the county would now consult with another state agency to get the proverbial ball rolling, there is no indication the project would be stymied.

“In no way are we suggesting after years of talking that now it’s not going to happen,” he said. “It’s just a little different process that’s used to determine which projects get funding.”

• Special event zones:

Meredith said a meeting is scheduled this Thursday to coordinate implementation of recently signed legislation permitting Worcester County, in conjunction with state highway, to designate roadways as special event zones, with reduced speed limits and increased fines.

“We know you have an event coming up and … we’re prepared to do whatever we have to do to have your special event zone set up,” he said.

•Route 50 bridge repairs:

Meredith said work has been wrapped up to repair a metal plate that had warped.

“We were worried somebody might hook into it,” he said. “It was an inconvenience, but we did get in there and get it done quickly.”

• Coastal Highway catch basin cleaning:

Meredith said the worst spots have been addressed and regular monitoring is planned.

“We did clean the most problematic areas and we’re continuing to do that as a routine maintenance operation,” he said.

• Third Street/Philadelphia Ave. traffic light:

Jane Potvin, assistant district engineer of traffic, said an updated crash study might be required. She said she will coordinate with City Engineer Terry McGean to move the process forward.

• Salisbury bypass bridge repairs:

Beane said all 11 bridges along the bypass have been repaired, with paving work completed on the southbound lanes, and again struck a familiar chord.

“We will be back to four lanes of traffic for Memorial Day,” he said. “After Memorial Day, we’ll have some daytime off-peak lane closures as we take care of paving on the north bound section.”

• State changes to ADA ramps

Beane said although no time frames have been established, the state is working on changing American with Disability Act compliant ramps along Coastal Highway, which are often tripping hazards due to raised portions of concrete.

“We are looking at alternative designs for unsafe intersections,” he said. “Although they are ADA complaint, we are tired of dealing with the lawsuits … and quite frankly they are unsafe.”

Beane said the trouble spots along Philadelphia and Baltimore avenues have already been inventoried.

• Sidewalk extension 59th to 61st:

Although the suggestion came about too late to be lumped into current roadwork, Meredith said extending the concrete sidewalk between 59th and 61st streets could be examined.

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