(Dec. 28, 2018) Although opinions varied this spring after the State Highway Administration completed installation of mid-town median fencing on Coastal Highway, it apparently did its job. By summer’s end zero serious pedestrian injuries occurred in the nearly two-dozen block stretch.
According to statistics provided by Ocean City Police Department, only a handful of minor pedestrian-involved accidents took place next to the fenced areas this summer. The year before, two pedestrians were killed in traffic there.
Previous state studies concluded the mid-town stretch was the most dangerous section of Coastal Highway because of the numerous popular drinking establishments and the mass of pedestrians in the area.
In 2016, after Ocean City Council approved designs for five-foot tall median fencing from the convention center on 41st Street to 62nd Street, budget constraints later delayed the project.
In January 2017, the city solicited bids and received only one, which was priced at $6.48 million for a project originally budgeted at $4.5 million.
In late June of that year, the State Highway Administration, after combining the fence work with resurfacing work on Coastal Highway, put the project back out to bid.
The expanded scope of work, now budgeted at $6.8 million, included, landscaping and LED lighting, repaving roughly two miles of Coastal Highway and improving the left lane turn on northbound Coastal Highway at 52nd Street.
Two bids were opened by state highway on Aug. 3 with low-bidder George & Lynch of Dover, Delaware getting the nod for $6.5 million.
Construction started in November 2017, with a pre-Memorial Day completion targeted.
Answering questions as 40-foot-tall LED light poles with extending arms varying between four and 10 feet in length were installed, Tanesha Hankerson, State Highway Administration community liaison, said the arm lengths were staggered to match the fence design.
Councilwoman Mary Knight highlighted the numerous emails received about the number of new median lighting poles and arms.
Jay Meredith, state highway district one engineer, said energy-efficient LED lighting provides superior illumination.
City Engineer Terry McGean said once the LED lighting goes live, the city could consider removing a number of current lights along Coastal Highway and save money.
In November, McGean’s concept of removing the pre-LED lighting garnered extensive council debate prior to a split-vote to retain and upgrade all perimeter lighting in the mid-town stretch.
The council voted to spend an additional $13,000 a year to convert 88 lights along a 20-block stretch of Coastal Highway to LED lamps.
Councilmembers James, DeLuca Knight and Mark Paddack, voted to retain the entire amount of perimeter lights and convert them to LEDs.
More than 48,000 vehicles travel Coastal Highway daily, according to state highway, and since 2011, 171 pedestrian collisions, including four fatalities, have occurred.