Motorists traveling on routes 50 or 90 to and from the Ocean City strip over the next month may need to budget a little more time to maneuver the road work that has already been disrupting their driving paths for weeks.

Shanteé Felix, the assistant media relations manager for the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, said in an email this week that road work is underway on both primary gateways into the city, and that the projects are set to continue until December.

The work includes milling, patching and overlay paving on U.S. 50 westbound from Herring Creek to MD 818 and eastbound from MD 346 east to Herring Creek. It began several weeks ago, and has been hard to miss, as lanes have frequently been shut down and traffic has been slowed to a crawl in some areas at times. Felix said crews are permitted to work 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday for that project.

And while some motorists may think they can escape the delays and head to Route 90 to get onto Coastal Highway, they cannot.

Felix said contract crews began eastbound bridge deck and street lighting repairs in late October on the busy throughway, and will move to the west side when finished. She said crews are permitted to work weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Both projects on US 50 and MD 90 have lane closures and flagging operations in place,” Felix said. “We advise motorists to allow for additional travel time when reaching their destinations and to visit md511.maryland.gov so that they will know in advance of any closures that will affect their travel.”

The website includes traffic conditions and other information to help drivers maneuver state roads.

And while it may seem poor planning for both projects to kick off and wrap up at essentially the same times, thus handicapping many commuters, Felix said the officials planned for the best case scenario.

“MDOT SHA works hard to minimize traffic disruptions while maintaining a safe work zone for our crews and customers,” Felix explained. “The US 50 resurfacing project is a capital project with a contract that expires in December 2021. For MD 90, MDOT SHA coordinated with the Town of Ocean City and the Worcester County Emergency Operations Center so that these routine maintenance repairs would occur during the off-season in order to minimize impacts to the traveling public.”

She added that officials are making efforts to help minimize the disruptions to motorists.

“We are working with Maryland State Police … and adjusting our lane closure and flagging operation times to help with traffic flow,” she said.

On Route 50, she said traffic has been building up primarily at the traffic signals, and that state police officers have been on site to extend green lights to keep vehicles moving.

“When necessary, crews are shortening the lane closures on the newly resurfaced portion of the roadway once it is cooled enough for travel,” she said.

On Route 90, Felix said crews are using shorter lane closure times and flagging operations.

The cost of the Route 50 project is about $2.5 million, while the cost of the 90 work is $125,000.

Felix added that no more state road projects are going on now in Ocean City, but she said officials are scheduling drain clean-outs on Coastal Highway.

“This work would take place from November to May, depending on the weather,” she said. “[It] will be performed in the bus lane or left lane along the curb line. During this time, there will always be at least one lane open to traffic. Since this work is being done during the off-peak travel times, impacts to the traveling public will be minimal.”

The highway department’s six-year Consolidated Transportation Program also includes $500,000 to study the Route 90 corridor between Route 50 and Ocean City, but no timetable for a potential project has been set.

This story appears in the print version of the OC Today Nov. 5.

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