Ocean City Today

Storm drains need cleaning soon

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 23, 2017
Courtesy of: Hal Adkins Public Works crews discovered sand clogged up drain basins on 125th Street, which is part of the reason why Coastal Highway has drainage issues during storm events.

(Nov. 24, 2017) Ocean City officials have found the cause of chronic Coastal Highway flooding: clogged stormwater drains.

The question, Public Works Director Hal Adkins asked at the Nov. 14 work session, is whose responsibility is it to keep those catch basins clean?

Coastal Highway is state Route 528, and as such, state roads are maintained by the State Highway Administration. But the drainage pipes for other city roads dump into the Coastal Highway stormwater drainage system.

Adkins recommended working with the SHA to start a comprehensive cleaning of the pipes and basins, as the last time it was done was in 1985 after Hurricane Gloria passed not far to the east of the resort.

“Then-city engineer (Councilman Dennis) Dare was here and we mobilized a fleet of vehicles and manpower at that time to do the work,” he said.

Since then, Public Works crews clean out the drain system on local roads as they are repaved. The SHA does the same when it takes on Coastal Highway and other paving projects in the off-season.

“It’s been hit and miss, and in the last couple of years, and as recently as a few months, we’ve seen abnormal flooding that the storm drain and the catch basins should’ve handled,” Adkins said.

In one case, 125th Street was under three feet of water after torrential rain in September. Public Works crews found 122 cubic yards of beach sand in that one catch basin.

SHA District Engineer Jay Meredith said that he would be willing to team up, but their involvement ended at state roads.

“All we can really do is work with our systems … most of the outlet structures go back to the town,” he said.

While Meredith agreed there will be plenty of opportunities to clean the midtown catch basins during the median fence and light installation, City Manager Doug Miller later warned the council that they would have to start their end sooner than later.

“This is not a job we can do ourselves, and it’s not one project that can be deferred,” he said during the Nov. 16 capital improvement plan session.

There had been some conversation on how to pay for the comprehensive drain cleaning in the past, and the strongest possibility is adding a fee to resident’s water and wastewater bills.

Otherwise, city officials could continue cleaning the basins one at a time and paying through the annual $2.5 million allocation for street paving.


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