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Ocean City

Route 50 Harry Kelley bridge replacement shelved

If you are in Ocean City this week, you may notice a couple of changes as you drive down Coastal Highway. The speed limit, normally 40 mph through North Ocean City, has been reduced to 30 mph, and Downtown, the speed limit has also been reduced. This is due to the expected, unauthorized H2Oi Pop-Up Rally.  It is reasonable to expect heavier than usual traffic, noise and strict enforcement of vehicle laws during the week and weekend.

Though declared “functionally obsolete” by the State Highway Administration in published reports, it’s going to be a generation or so before the Harry Kelley bridge into Ocean City can be put out to pasture.
The bridge, which has conveyed millions inot their favorite beach resort and into any of Ocean City’s hotels, motels restaurants, retail shops and restaurants, has been on “the list” for years now.
 
It’s “the list” that doesn’t get smaller. Other projects have taken precendence for the usual resons, and the way-worn-out-its-welcome recession has pretty much done the rest. To be sure, there are people out there who have projects waiting in the wings that would look at a 20-year timeline favorably.
 
Of course the problem is funding. State officials are quoted as s aying the reccomendations of a blue-ribbon panel are being prepared for the next legislative session in Annapolis and will probably contain a few different mechanisms for increasing the ability of this agency to complete many much-needed projects.
 
What that means on the consumers side is, at this point, apparently anyone’s guess. Some fees will likely be tweaked, or maybe an eighth of a penny from one tax somewhere could end up being shifted somewhere else. It could happen, but the chorus will likely end up being some sort of out of pocket expense for the taxpayers.
 
Estimates to replace the bridge have been reported as being in the neighborhood of $310 million. Several replacement plans have been discussed in years past, when the bridge replacement was a more tangible reality.
 
Several of them involved relocating the bride – an incredibly short-lived option once proposed moving the bridge and traffic through Ocean Pines.  
 
The Route 113 expansion project was also put on hold in the same breath, which was convenient because it was for the same reasons the bridge upgrade isn’t going anywhere for a while.
 
The planning stage to replace the Harry Kelley bridge is complete, but if that does the project any good hasn’t been elaborated upon. State officials say the bridge is in good condition and the project may be shelved for 20 years. Or more. At that time, bridges themselves may be obsolete, because my millions in stock options on hovercars are going to pay off by then.
 
Short of it falling off into the bay (during the dead of night injuring no one and nothing below it), it doesn’t appear there’s a way to move the project forward at this time.

But by that time, we’ll be living on our own moon bought with dividends from our wise investment into hovercar stock. Sure, today it sounds like a pipe dream, but it’s a safer bet than buying a bridge in Ocean City.  

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