OCEAN CITY – With a cautious eye on last summer’s pedestrian deaths and dozens of other accidents, items are being checked off a list to help make the Ocean City’s streets safer for pedestrians this summer.
During the State Highway Administration’s (SHA) annual spring meeting with the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday afternoon, SHA Assistant District Engineer Ken Cimino gave an update on the pedestrian safety campaign in Ocean City.
“As of last September, we had a long list of things we were hoping to do here in Ocean City geared towards our pedestrian safety efforts, and we have managed to complete a good portion of them,” Cimino said.
SHA has implemented “side road split phasing”, which is the assignment of right-of-way of vehicular traffic, on Coastal Highway and Robin Drive, Coastal Highway and 94th Street and Coastal Hwy and 130th Street.
“Side road split phasing will eliminate pedestrian conflicts at these large intersections where we have multiple concurrent double left turns and other movements that were happening at the same time,” Cimino said.
Starting on March 15, the SHA added pedestrian recall at 13 intersections between 59th and 17th streets between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. In the future, this program will run from May 1 through Sept. 30.
“The pedestrian recall feature will allow a signal control, called Ped Signal, when a vehicle is at the side street, so even when the pedestrian neglects to push the button they will automatically have walk icon as they cross the roadway,” Cimino said. “We are keeping an eye on this. We are hoping it is a successful safety feature …”
SHA also installed advanced pedestrian signal timing along the entire corridor.
“What this means is when the Ped Signal comes up, pedestrians will give an exclusive, about seven seconds, to start walking across the roadway before the side road green indicator comes up for vehicular traffic,” Cimino said.
Last year there were 41 accidents on Coastal Highway and out of those accidents six occurred in the area between 52nd and 59th streets.
In that area, SHA has placed pavement marking on the curbs every 40 feet that are yellow with black lettering that state “No Pedestrian Crossing.” Also, on each side street approaching Coastal Highway in that area, signs have been installed stating “No Pedestrian Crossing” with the universal symbol for no pedestrian crossing and arrows directing pedestrians to the marked intersections stating “Use Crosswalk.”
SHA has a list of ongoing efforts currently being studied and researched, such as eliminating right-hand-turn-on-red movements at larger and busier intersections. Accident data is currently being studied regarding this action with results to be brought forward later in the summer season.
If the study shows the action to be warranted, right hand turns on red would be eliminated in six locations; Robin Drive, 33rd Street, 94th Street, 123rd Street, 127th Street and 130th Street.
Another ongoing effort is the idea of a “Road Diet” on Coastal Hwy. SHA has limited it down to two options.
One concept would have the current third vehicle traffic lane become shared between vehicles and buses and have the current bus lane become a bike lane with wider sidewalks for pedestrians. The other would have only two vehicle traffic lanes, the third lane dedicated to buses only, and the current bus lane become a bike lane with wider sidewalks for traffic.
“Right now, that project is with our Office of Highway Development that is currently going through the project’s impact review stage, to look at the feasibility of these two projects,” Cimino said. “We are hoping we will be getting that report sometime mid-summer to see what is the best way to go. They are also looking at any kind of median barriers.”
SHA’s Office of Traffic and Safety is currently working on right-of-way issues regarding the installation of a pedestrian crossing signal on 54th Street.
“Once they get cleared up. I expect the design of the pedestrian signal at 54th St., to move forward later this summer or early fall,” Cimino said.
SHA has picked a weekend in each month of May through September this summer to collect data on the initiatives being taken to improve pedestrian safety in Ocean City,
“We have gotten a lot of things done, but we have a long way to go,” Cimino said. “We will see how the summer goes. Hopefully, it will be successful and if it is, we will build off the success, and if it isn’t as successful, we will reevaluate and see what other measures to implement.”