(March 19, 2021) The new $25 million Ocean City Department of Public Works campus renovation at 65th Street is nearly complete, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m.
On Tuesday, March 9, Hal Adkins, the director of public works, gave a tour of the facility to Councilmen Frank Knight, Tony DeLuca and Mark Paddack.
“We worked for 10 years planning this project,” Adkins said. “We were required to have a 50-year vision ... not 50 years before the roof starts leaking.”
Construction of the campus, which was prompted by the city transit system’s rapid growth over the past 40 years, began in 2018 and was a decade in the making.
Adkins said when the previous public works building was constructed in the 1980s, Ocean City had 12 short buses. When compared to the 60 or more buses the division now operates, the staffing has grown exponentially, as has the need for a bigger facility.
The new campus has two fueling facilities, a car wash for buses, its own parts department with several tire racks, and multiple bays for mechanics to work on anything from an all-terrain vehicle to a bus.
Adkins described the process when bus drivers return from being out on the road all day. They drive to a part of the facility where a team takes over the bus, cleans it out, washes it then returns it to the bus garage for another driver, or the same one, to pick it up the next day and repeat the process.
Once the cleanup crew takes over the bus, the driver heads into another part of the campus where he or she takes the money and tickets to be counted.
Along with having an entire facility that services buses and other equipment operated by Ocean City, the campus also allows other divisions like the Beach Patrol and the police department to store equipment and offer training.
There is even a space for individuals under the age of 18 to be held if they break the law. The holding cell is in a separate building from the jail to allow minors to be confined to an area free of adult inmates, until their parents come and pick them up.
City Council members authorized the design-phase of the project in September 2016. That included a nearly one-acre bus barn facility, upgraded space for the purchasing department and a four-story parking garage with a helipad, but latter two items were scrapped when bids came back far higher than expected – 20 percent higher, with the lowest bid coming in at $11 million.
Instead, the space where the parking garage and helipad were expected to go, just south of the campus, will continue to serve as a parking lot until the city is ready to construct the parking garage.
Projects of this type consist of federal, state, and local funding, often split 80/10/10, respectively.
According to Adkins last year, the city paid nothing for the transit-related portions, like the bus barn and fuel depot.
A large portion of the $25 million project that the city ended up with was able to be matched with land value instead of cash.
The ribbon cutting on Friday is expected to take place outside, though the public is not encouraged to attend because of social distancing measures. Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to be on hand because of the state’s involvement in funding the project.