(Oct. 5, 2018) The Maryland Department of Transportation discussed numerous improvements on its agenda for Worcester County during its annual presentation to the Worcester County Commissioners Tuesday, but one road was left off the list: Route 90.
“Reading through all this paperwork, I don’t see the Route 90 dualization anywhere,” Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic told Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn
Rahn replied the midtown connection to Route 50 and Route 113, one of three points of exit and access for Ocean City, was left out because of the absence of funding. He said the $75 billion worth of improvement projects that could be done in the state do not align with the six-year $16 billion allocation his department has received.
“There is far more that we would very much like to do, but can’t, and quite honestly, there’s more that we can’t do than we can,” Rahn said.
Mitrecic added this is not the first time the county commissioners have urged the state to widen this stretch of road.
“I really don’t think that you can look at [Route] 589 without thinking about dualizing [Route] 90, Mitrecic said.
He added that if the Route 50 Bridge needs to close for an extended period of time, the consequences could be catastrophic.
“Route 90 is woefully unprepared to carry the total load of the traffic coming in and out of Ocean City,” Metrecic said. “God forbid there’s an emergency, then it even becomes that much more dire.”
Mitrecic said he also feels the Route 90 project should supersede the work being done on the Route 50 Bridge.
“I encourage you to consider Route 90,” said Ocean City Council Member Wayne Hartman, in a show of support, and also echoed potential safety concerns.
Rahn stressed time and money are the obstacles to an undertaking of the scope of a Route 90 expansion.
“We understand it’s an important project. We will try to work on innovative ways … but we really are running into problems with cost, and we also know the longer we wait the more it’s going to cost,” Rahn said.
But for Mitrecic, this potential project is personal.
“I tell you as a resident of Ocean City, I can tell you it’s not going to work the way you have it now,” Mitrecic said.
“We understand clearly that [Route] 90 is important to the county,” Rahn replied. “It will remain on the radar. But … I don’t want to mislead anybody. It’s a lot of money.”
MDOT does have other projects taking place in the county, including adding a second left-turn lane from U.S. 50 eastbound to Route 589 northbound. Construction is set to begin next spring.
There are also slope repairs to portions of Route 589, and construction is expected to finish by the end of 2018. There is also a roundabout expected to be added at Route 589 and Ocean Pines North Gate.
Other projects are:
• A 4.6-mile $52 million widening of Route 113 between Massey Branch and Five Mile Branch Road. The road reopened in July.
• The final phase of widening of Route 113 for four miles between Five Mile Branch Road and Public Landing Road. The $74 million project is under construction, and is expected to be finished by next fall.
• Repairs to the Route 50 drawbridge in Ocean City.
• Resurfacing projects totaling $31 million, including $7 million to resurface Coastal Highway and to improve pedestrian safety
MDOT allocated the following funds for Worcester County:
• $14 million in highway user revenues for county, with an additional $1.3 million in grants awarded by the governor and highway safety through MDOT MTA
• $30,019 to the Ocean City Police Department
• $3,589.30 to Worcester County Health Department
• $1,995.50 to Worcester County Sheriff’s Office
• $2,000 to the Ocean Pines Police Department
• $3.8 million in grants for Shore Transit, which supports local transit operations. The grants allow for medium buses, one small bus, mobility management, and continual preventative maintenance
• $7.7 million for the Ocean City Transit System, which includes $6 million for the second phase of a transit facility as part of an $18 million commitment from MDOT MTA
• $88,000 for 2018-19 for programs such as the Community for Life in Ocean Pines. Adults over the age of 65 are eligible for grocery trips and social events, medical transportation, phone call check-ins, handyman services, and screening of vendors.