SHA hosts open house on Rte. 50 Bridge
By Bob Lassahn
On June 8 and 9 the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) hosted an open house at the Ocean City Convention Center to glean input from interested citizens on the future of the Route 50 bridge into the resort.
The SHA is considering a wide range of options including rehabilitating the existing bridge, building a new bridge, a non-bridge option and even a no action option. The study is seeking to address a number of recognized needs including improving the structural, operational and safety problems associated with the existing bridge. It also seeks answers on better ways to accommodate various users including drivers, public transit passengers, pedestrians, fishermen, cyclists and boaters.
The existing bridge over Sinepuxent Bay, officially known as the Harry W. Kelly Memorial Bridge, was built in 1942. It has been placed in the state’s Historic Bridge inventory and is eligible for inclusion in the National Historic Register. According to the SHA the bridge has an operating life expectancy of 15 to 40 years, depending on the extent of repair work during the coming years.
According to SHA personnel the three two-hour sessions had drawn about 60 people by midway through the 9 a.m. Thursday open house. A number of suggestions and recommendations were posted on three-by-five index cards, many bearing the comment “keep the existing bridge.” Some offered a suggestion to provide a separate fishing facility, moving the fishermen from the existing bridge to better facilitate pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
A map was provided to those attending, which enabled them to sketch their vision of what to do for the bridge crossing. One completed by an attendee showed two parallel spans to the existing bridge, one to the north and one to the south, with a comment the existing bridge could be used for pedestrians, bicycles and fishing. Yet another suggested a tunnel between the two shores and one a new bridge linking the existing western approach with the area of Worcester Street in Ocean City. The SHA will have some interesting options from the locals to consider.
According to Christopher Weber, project manager for the SHA, there is still an opportunity for comment and input on the project. Interested persons can also sign up for a newsletter mailing list and receive updates on progress. To sign up for the mailing list write to:
Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration Office of Planning and Preliminary Engineering
Baltimore, MD 21203-0717
Include a reference to U.S. 50 at Sinepuxent Bay, MD 611 to MD 378
They may also be reached by phone at 1-800-548-5026 and newsletters may be viewed on the website at www.marylandroads.com (click on news releases on the homepage.).
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