Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


OPA mulls repair, replacement of two major bridges

(Oct. 1 2015) To repair or not to repair the bridges in Ocean Pines.
That was the question during last Thursday’s board meeting, when General Manager Bob Thompson went over the association’s options on repairs and replacements.
Thompson’s roughly 30-minute presentation focused on a 2014 report by Gannett Fleming.
According to the report, the Ocean Parkway Bridge has a Bridge Safety Rating (BSR) of 47.2, which represents needing “immediate and priority repairs” totaling $316,100. Total repairs were estimate at $321,200.
The Clubhouse Drive Bridge has a 41.3 BSR, which indicates it also needs immediate and priority repairs. The cost in this instance would be $332,350 for immediate repairs and $333,150 for total repairs.
Thompson said work on both bridges is in the design phase, with the focus on the superstructure.
In the meantime, the association is exploring several replacement options. Timber, precast concrete or steel and precast concrete are being looked at, and state and federal funding options are being pursued.
State funds for bridge repairs are filtered through the counties, which then award funding based on need, Thompson said. He reported that county officials told him state funds were a more likely target, as federal funds had not been pursued in the region for more than 20 years.
During previous meetings, Thompson suggested outside funding for replacement would likely cover the majority of the cost, but not all of it.
At the suggestion of the county, Ocean Pines contacted design firm Davis, Bowen & Frieda, Inc., who drafted a repair estimate dated Sept. 15. According to DBF, necessary repairs would cost $250,000 per bridge.
A schedule included in the estimate suggested repairs on the Ocean Parkway Bridge could be completed by February, while the Clubhouse Drive Bridge could be finished in April of next year.
According to the estimate, replacement of a Timber bridge would total $642,000. Precast concrete or steel would cost $640,000, while precast concrete was estimated at $670,000.
Replacement, on the other hand, could take several years. A “best case estimate” suggested, with outside funding, surveys, permitting and construction, the Ocean Parkway Bridge could be finished by Aug. 2017, with the Clubhouse Drive Bridge taking an additional six months, finishing in February 2018.
If the association were to use capital funds to replace the bridge, the Ocean Parkway Bridge could be finished by May 2017, with the Clubhouse Drive Bridge targeted for a Sept. 2017 completion date.
Currently, Ocean Pines has $170,000 earmarked for its bridges.
Thompson said the association was pursuing a “parallel path,” exploring repair and replacement options simultaneously, with the goal of bringing both BSR ratings over 50.  
“The repair work will increase the BSR, but certainly not as much as a new bridge,” he said. “Spending the amount of money to do the repair work is going to be expensive and all we’re going to is buy time until replacement becomes the reality of what we need to do. We’re trying to balance that right now.”
Thompson said he has yet to receive a definitive answer how long a repaired bridge would last before needing replacement, and that the county report recommended repairs, but did not require them.
Also, because repairs would increase the BSR, the association would have to walk a proverbial tightrope. If the rating went over 50, Ocean Pines would not be available for state or federal funds.
“We’re in a catch-22 here,” Director Jack Collins said.
Director Dave Stevens worried about the cost and safety concerns of shutting down either bridge.
“If those bridges are going to be closed for a day … you have to have an alternate plan,” he said. “All of the alternate plans that we’ve envisioned so far are pretty expensive. So when you’re looking at the cost you’d better look at the total cost.”
“That’s what we’re struggling with right now,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to get all the facts and all the pieces and all the solutions to make the best-informed solution we can.”
Thompson said the intent was to pursue repairs on some level “because it needs to be done,” adding that he believed repairs would, “bring us further than 2017.”
If the board wanted to pursue replacement of the bridge, they would have to select the type of bridge and a replacement funding program.
“The next step for the board is I’m going to come back to you once we have everything figured out on the pros and cons with the types of structures and I’m going to ask for your guidance,” he said. “From there we’ll develop plans around whatever that structure is, and then we’re going to submit through the county.”