Politics, Traffic

Governor Hogan announces $15 million for MD 90 improvements to advance ‘Reach The Beach’ plan

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ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan this week announced $15 million to advance the state’s long-term “Reach the Beach” plan with safety, access, and congestion relief projects along MD 90 (Ocean City Expressway) in Worcester County. The funds enable the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration to accelerate planning and move to the design phase for improvements along the 12-mile stretch of MD 90 from US 50 to MD 528 (Coastal Highway).

On Friday at the Bay Bridge, the governor announced that the state is advancing its strategy to address congestion and future traffic demand crossing the Chesapeake Bay, with the launch of the $28 million Bay Crossing Study Tier 2 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“In 1987, Governor William Donald Schaefer launched a ‘Reach the Beach’ effort in order to modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure, relieve beachbound traffic congestion, and to make summer travel easier across the state,” said Governor Hogan. “After decades of inaction, our goal has been to finally fulfill that ‘Reach the Beach’ mission. By moving forward on a new Chesapeake Bay crossing and with the modernization of MD 90—the Gateway to Ocean City—we will be providing a safe, efficient, 21st century transportation system for the Eastern Shore, which will allow us to continue to grow our economy, and which will ensure that Marylanders and visitors alike can enjoy all that Ocean City and the Eastern Shore have to offer.”

During his keynote address at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference last August, Governor Hogan announced that the State of Maryland’s new Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) would include $850,000 for the project planning phase for MD 90 improvements. Moving into the design phase is the next step to making this a shovel-ready project.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Ocean City every weekend during the summer months, and many use MD 90 to reach northern sections of the town. The western end of MD 90 at US 50 carries about 33,000 vehicles a day on summer weekends.

MD 90 is also a primary access point for the Town of Ocean Pines and supports access to the communities of Bishopville and Showell. The highway currently experiences significant congestion in the event of a traffic incident or impediment on US 50 at the southern end of Ocean City. Both MD 90 and US 50 also are primary hurricane evacuation routes.

In addition to enhancing safety and reducing traffic congestion, improvements on MD 90 would seek to increase response times for police, fire, and ambulance response, particularly during the summer months. Improvements to the MD 90 corridor have been identified by Worcester County and Ocean City as their top transportation priority.

“MD 90 provides needed access to Ocean City for beachgoers, and also serves as a critical connector for residents and businesses,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “Governor Hogan’s commitment gives us the tools we need to deliver improvements in partnership with community residents, officials, and local agencies.”

Built in the 1970s, MD 90 was initially constructed to get beachbound travelers to growing areas of northern Ocean City. MD 90 crosses St. Martin River and Assawoman Bay on two bridge spans, and preliminary plans call for those bridges to be expanded as part of overall improvements.

MDOT SHA is conducting a survey and will host a virtual public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, as part of the ongoing $850,000 planning study. During the meeting, MDOT SHA will familiarize participants with the project and answer project-related questions. The link to the meeting, as well as project details and information, is available online here.

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