space traveling warriors tier list : State issues $15 million to Rt. 90 improvements

Plans for improvements to Route 90 were on display Monday near Annapolis’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as Governor Larry Hogan announced that the state would be shelling out more than $15 million to help highway officials in the planning phase of the project. PHOTO COURTESY PATRICK SEIBERT

Money will be paid to complete security planning, access upgrades, dual lanes

By Mallory Panuska, Staff Writer

The light at the end of the bumper-to-bumper traffic tunnel on Route 90 got brighter this week as state officials announced that a large amount of money is being allocated for improvements to the resort’s main corridor.

Governor Larry Hogan announced Monday from a grassy site on the Isle of Wight Park in Worcester County that $15 million will go to Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration officials to expedite planning and pass for the design phase of improvements to the nearly 12-mile stretch. from Route 50 to downtown Ocean City as part of the state’s long-running Reach the Beach campaign.

Governor Larry Hogan announced Monday near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis that the state would be disbursing more than $15 million to help highway authorities complete the planning phase for improvements to Route 90. PHOTO COURTESY PATRICK SEIBERT

“In 1987, Governor William Donald Schaefer launched a ‘Reach the Beach’ effort to modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure, alleviate beach traffic congestion, and facilitate summer travel across the state,” Hogan said during the interview. collective. “After decades of inactivity, our goal was finally to fulfill the ‘Reach the Beach’ mission. By moving forward with a new crossing of the Chesapeake Bay and with the modernization of the [Route] 90 — the gateway to Ocean City — we will provide a safe and efficient 21st century transportation system for the East Coast that will allow us to continue to grow our economy and ensure that Marylanders and visitors can enjoy all that Ocean City and the East Coast have to offer.”

The money will advance plans to expand Route 90 from two to four lanes and make other improvements that will help ease traffic during peak hours. The main thoroughfare provides easier access to downtown and northern Ocean City via a connection to Route 50 at 62nd Street, and is often backed up during peak hours. Improvements have been a high priority for resort staff, who have been pushing for financial help for years.

“This has been a priority. [mayor and City Council] the last 10 years,” Mayor Rick Meehan said in an email this week. “Not only is it important to accommodate the increased traffic coming into Ocean City, but it is imperative to address our ability to continue to provide emergency police, fire and ambulance services and emergency evacuations when needed.”

Hogan pointed out during his press conference that the west end of the road carries around 33,000 vehicles a day during the busy summer months and also serves as a primary hurricane evacuation route.

Built nearly five decades ago, Route 90 was initially built to give tourists access to the growing areas of northern Ocean City, as well as the thriving communities of Showell and Ocean Pines. Crosses the river St. Martin and Assawoman Bay on two bridge spans, which are slated for expansion in preliminary improvement plans.

Hogan announced last summer that the Route 90 project would be a state priority, given its role in bringing tourists to the East Coast and supporting local residents. He followed up the statement with an allocation of $850,000 within the state’s consolidated transportation program to kick off the planning phase.

As part of this effort, MDOT SHA representatives are conducting a survey and will hold a virtual public meeting at 6:30 pm on June 21. During the meeting, employees will share project details and allow the public to ask questions. For the link and additional information about the meeting, visit mdot-sha-md90-us50-to-md528-wo782b11-maryland.hub.arcgis.com.

“This is an opportunity for the public to become aware of the scope of the project and provide information about the importance of the project to this entire area,” Meehan said of the meeting.

Meehan also said officials support the Reach the Beach plan and are happy to see state leaders helping to facilitate it.

“The volume of traffic coming to the East Coast and Ocean City increases every year,” Meehan said. “The Reach the Beach plan ensures that our East Coast residents and visitors can make this trip safely and reduce nuisance delays during peak hours. It will benefit coastal residents moving to the west coast, the delivery of goods and services and the vacation travel experience of our visitors.”

While Route 90 has been the top transportation priority and remains number one until funding is fully secured for the entire project, Meehan said improvements to Route 589 must be addressed simultaneously. He also said the future replacement of the Route 50 bridge, the resort’s other major corridor, is a long-term goal.

After the planning phase is complete, Route 90 improvements will move into design and then construction.

This story appears in the print version of the Bayside Gazette on June 16, 2022.

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