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$24 Million for Better Roads and Drainage in Ocean City?

City Council considers a five-year plan that would dramatically increase infrastructure investments.

Mayor Jay Gillian's administration is proposing to more than double its investment in road and drainage improvements over the next five years — from an estimated $11.3 million to about $24 million.

Senior staff members outlined a plan in a presentation to City Council at a budget workshop on Thursday. Council is in the early stages of drafting next year's municipal budget, which would include funding for any capital projects.

The recommended five-year plan would fix every road in the city rated 60 or lower on the city's pavement rating system (see an explanation of the ratings and a ratings map).

"The timing is right to really get at the roads and drainage," Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said. 

He said the administration is responding to both the public and City Council that the issue should get much more attention, and he said now is an opportune time to seek financing on capital projects.

City Engineer Arthur Chew outlined the scope of the problem on an island where 75 percent of the streets would flood in a two-year storm.

Strategies for improving drainage include:

  • Increasing pipe diameters (a solution complicated by a competing grid of other underground utilities)
  • Decreasing building and impervious coverage
  • Installing check valves that keep tidal water from flowing backwards through the storm drain system (the valves can cost as much as $30,000 apiece and in some tides hinder rainwater drainage). The city has 248 outfall pipes, including 47 on ocean beaches (these do not require check valves).
  • Increasing bulkhead heights
  • Increasing road elevations
  • A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant could pay for a pumping system that could bring relief to an area around Haven Avenue between Second and Eighth streets. Equipment could be located on city property at Third Street and Haven Avenue.

Dattilo said each individual road project would address all drainage, design and pavement issues at the same time.

 "We're doing the projects the right way," he said.

But he acknowledged no amount of road improvements can fully eliminate flooding on a barrier island.

"Let's not kid ourselves," he said. 

Caroline October 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Great! and not a moment too soon. I have lived in Ocean City all my life and watched how the flooding has worsened over the years with over building and too much blacktop and no trees left to absorb water. This is money well spent for a change. Does Ocean City have any money left over after all the constant law suits though?
Marianne D'Elia October 19, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Supernonni after reading your asphalt rating, Pennlyn Place surely is 50 or below!!! We have been told for,over 2 years that our street will be done....guess the city ran out of asphalt after paving alleys!!!!
Eric Sauder October 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Good. Up to this point I haven't seen a genuine interest in addressing roads and drainage. Will we go after state funding to study the flooding problem? Does that mean that recommendations in the master plan re-exam that will increase building and impervious coverage will be sent back to the planning board for further review? As for raising the roads is that really a solution? It's not going to do you any good to be able to drive on the streets if you can't get to your car. I'm more than a little concerned about spending the money and then finding out that what it was spent on didn't fix the problem. Before making specific recommendations I think it would be good to make sure we fully understand the problem and know how to fix it.
John Maddonni Sr. October 20, 2012 at 09:41 AM
Is it possible to store rain water some where, to be used again? 30K for special check valves is high priced, however, inexpenses simple valves can be used to direct the water to lacations for pumping. 24M is a lot of money chasing water!
robert armstrong October 22, 2012 at 12:53 PM
drainage is a problem, no question , however it has been worse with the unsuccessful fixes of the past , where water was pushed from one location to another. I believe the city should work to fix the problem but don't throw good tax money after bad. Study the problem , look at Avalon and Stone Harbor , see what they have done, bring in experts from Louisanna , then proceed . If the city believes their way is best then they should stand behind it and if it fails compensate those of us who will suffer from their failures.
John Maddonni Sr. October 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM
The only way to drain surface water in OC is to raise the island 10 feet. Otherwise, the next best thing to do is extradinary. Feasibilty studies on how to dispose of this rain water should start now.
Robert McKenna, MIKE October 23, 2012 at 11:39 PM
I am very glad to see the city government attempting correctly a fix on the severe flooding this town experiences after only moderate rainfall. It does seem an impossible task on a barrier island. However, some combination of gravity and pumping should be able to relieve the problem. My concern, pumping or draining the street flood areas should also be at least minimally cleaned before the water goes into the bay or ocean.
John Maddonni Sr. October 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM
To Mayor Gillian: I believe that these comments are important to the City. Rain water should not be pumped into the bay or ocean. It should be disposed to a collection system and than stored in a reservoir for future use. There could be some financial gain to the City with this idea because it could be used by private, commercial and industrial needs, especially during a drought. This is the ultimate in Recycling.

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