(Feb. 7, 2020) The Robin Drive sidewalk-widening project began last week, marking it as one of the first formal projects to be completed under Ocean City government’s Complete Streets initiative.
The cost of the project is $1.2 million, with $146,000 allocated to the sidewalk widening itself.
“Complete Streets was brought to the mayor and City Council in combination with bicycle safety initiatives back in 2018,” City Engineer Terry McGean said.
Adopted on Nov. 19, 2018, the initiative obliges city staff to evaluate all users’ needs on streets slated for repaving and repair work, and aims to ensure the accommodation of cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and disabled users.
The initiative also streamlines the work, making it more collaborative between departments.
“Complete Streets made formal something we’ve been doing over the years, or at least trying to do … Before we do these streets, myself, Public Works Director Hal Adkins, Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville and Engineering Manager Paul Mauser sit down together and look at the streets, and that’s the difference. Before, I might look at it, or Hal might look at it, and this forces us to sit down as a team,” McGean said.
The project had generated controversy among residents, property owners and local elected officials last year when it was proposed.
Originally offered in August 2019, the initial proposal had been tabled because of questions concerning parking and costs.
In September, McGean presented a new proposal with two choices:
• Option 2/a — widen sidewalks from Philadelphia Avenue to Judlee Avenue at a cost of $48,000 and no loss of parking.
• Option 3/a — widen sidewalks from Philadelphia Avenue to Sparrow Lane at a cost of $146,000 with two regular and two metered parking spaces lost.
Both options featured 12.5-foot bike/vehicle lanes.
After intense arguments between council members, option 3/a was approved in a 5 to 2 vote.
Sidewalk widths will increase from 5 feet to 8 feet, alongside additional work, such as paving, curb cut repairs, storm drain improvements and water and sewer line work, McGean said.
Adkins said, pending good weather conditions, the project should be completed by April 1. With all below-ground work finished and a majority of the sidewalk work wrapped up, all that is left is paveme