OCEAN CITY — The state Department of Transportation plans to increase the speed limit on the Route 52 causeway between Somers Point and Ocean City to 45 mph.
Or is that a decrease?
The exact speed limit on the bridge is actually somewhat unclear. The posted limit for most of the span is 40 mph, but in response to an inquiry from a local attorney, the DOT stated the statutory limit is 50 mph.
When The Press of Atlantic City contacted the DOT about the discrepancy in late October, spokesmen did not have an immediate explanation. Another call to the DOT Thursday to clarify the issue was not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, the Ocean City Police Department has been issuing speeding tickets on the new bridge since it fully opened in May, and police regularly remind citizens that the speed limit is 40 mph on the causeway.
The Press submitted an Open Public Records Act request to Ocean City earlier this week to review all speeding tickets issued for speeding violations on the new bridge.
On Thursday night, the Ocean City Council approved a resolution supporting the DOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering’s recommendation to change the speed limit to 45 mph for most of the bridge, and 35 mph for the southbound lanes starting 1,300 feet north of where the road touches down on the island.
The resolution complies with a letter from the state dated Oct. 3 requesting support for the state’s recommendation, which is part of the process to establish a traffic regulation order. The letter, signed by Supervising Traffic Investigator Michael Mihalic, does not state what the current legal limit is.
The change, the letter also states, is based on “a review of current speed check data, trial runs, the pacing of vehicles in the normal traffic stream, roadway conditions, and an evaluation of the adjacent land use.”
The change may have been spurred by an inquiry from Pleasantville attorney Alan Lands. He requested the legal speed limit from DOT, and a signed response from Bureau of Safety Engineering Manager Chris Barretts stated the limit is 50 mph.
Lands subsequently provided copies of the documentation to The Press. He believes that none of those people cited for speeding on the bridge based on the posted 40 mph limit should have been ticketed, and anyone who paid fines should be repaid if indeed the legal speed limit is 50 mph.
Before Thursday’s meeting, city solicitor Dottie McCrosson said she was aware that a private citizen had requested information about the speed limit on the bridge. It was not clear whether the request initiated the DOT’s action.
Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said he was unaware that there was any discrepancy about the speed limit. He noted that the bridge is still partially under construction and that may affect the speed limit there.
McCrosson and Dattilo did not know when the speed limit changes were expected to take effect. There was no discussion during the City Council meeting about the resolution, which was unanimously approved during the consent agenda portion.
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