Transportation Officials Announce Local Grants and Key Project Updates
News Release, Maryland Department of Transportation
Leonardtown, MD – Deputy Transportation Secretary R. Earl Lewis Jr. met with St. Mary’s County officials today to discuss the Draft FY 2020-2025 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), which details the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) draft six-year capital budget.
Today’s meeting was part of MDOT’s tour of 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City to update officials and the public on the Hogan administration’s $15.3 billion investment over the next six years in transit, highways, the Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA), Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall). Officials also discussed the Maryland Transportation Authority’s $3.1 billion investment in toll roads and bridges.
“We have delivered a record program in record time and will continue improving our services to Marylanders,” said MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn.
In 2015, the Hogan Administration outlined a program of historic investment in infrastructure. Over the last four years, MDOT has completed 1,069 projects totaling nearly $5.9 billion.
Deputy Secretary Lewis and other MDOT officials outlined key updates on transportation investments in St. Mary’s County and across Maryland. Statewide, there are 718 airport, highway, transit, port, bicycle, and MDOT MVA projects underway, with a value of $7.2 billion.
The deputy secretary announced an increase in funding through Highway User Revenues (HUR), made possible by bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Larry Hogan last year. St. Mary’s County will receive $1,925,617 through HUR this year, an increase of $111,670 over last year’s allocation. In addition, St. Mary’s County will receive $38,652 in highway safety grant funding.
MDOT team members representing the agency’s business units were: Deputy Transportation Secretary Lewis; Deputy Administrator Leslie Dews from the MDOT MVA; Local Transit Support Deputy Director Jeannie Fazio from the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA); Administrator Greg Slater from the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); Regional Aviation Assistance Director Ashish Solanki from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA); and Planning & Program Development Director Melissa Williams from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).
MDOT SHA is working on several projects in St. Mary’s County, including a $13 million intersection safety improvement project along MD 5 at Abell and Moakley streets in Leonardtown. Construction is expected to begin this fall, with a completion date scheduled for fall 2021.
In addition, MDOT SHA is planning a $27 million improvement project on MD 5 leading to Point Lookout State Park. Crews will reconstruct MD 5 to include an 11-foot lane with an 8-foot shoulder in both directions between Camp Brown Road and the park entrance. Construction is slated to be completed in fall 2021.
In May, MDOT SHA completed a $1.8 million project that provides a two-lane road with direct access to MD 235 for the Woodland Acres community in California. Safety improvements also were completed along MD 4 at Oak Drive.
System preservation work is underway in St. Mary’s County, too, including patching MD 6 from MD 5 to Parlett Morgan Road, which began in September. MDOT SHA also is studying potential pedestrian safety enhancements and traffic calming along MD 471 at the recently-reopened Cecil’s Country Store.
MDOT SHA plans to widen MD 4 between Wildewood Parkway and Old St. Andrews Church Road. The project includes the construction of a dedicated left-turn lane onto Old St. Andrews Church Road from southbound MD 4, and onto Wildewood Parkway from northbound MD 4. Design is underway and the project is scheduled to be advertised for construction in spring 2021.
MDOT SHA is partnering on four projects totaling $5.3 million in federal grants and one project totaling $625,000 in state grant funds, including the MD 5 Pedestrian and Bicycle Trail, and Three Notch Trail Phase 7. In addition, $35,000 was awarded for the Southern Regional State Forest rail-trail service and maintenance project.
MDOT MTA is making a significant investment in St. Mary’s County transit through the operation of four Commuter Bus routes and providing $1.6 million in operating and capital grants to support the local transit system. Local transit funding includes routing software, ongoing preventive maintenance, and the Rideshare program. Additionally, $58,000 will be provided to nonprofits that serve the transportation needs of local seniors and people with disabilities.
MDOT MVA Deputy Administrator Dews provided an update on federal REAL ID compliance, noting that 51.5 percent of St. Mary’s County residents are REAL ID ready in advance of the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline. She also touted the fact that MDOT MVA employees have received a 98 percent satisfaction rating from customers.
MDTA officials noted the ongoing procurement process for the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge replacement project in Charles County. The project includes planning, design, and construction of a new four-lane bridge, as well as environmental mitigation, utilities, right-of-way, reconstruction of the facility campus and demolition of the existing bridge, among other costs. MDTA anticipates selecting a design/build team by the end of this year.
The $27 million Bay Bridge rehabilitation project was also discussed. The project involves replacing the deck surface of the westbound span right lane, with work progressing 24/7. Work includes deck repairs, sealing the deck and replacing existing lane signal gantries and steel rail posts.
To help keep traffic flowing, MDTA has implemented cashless tolling at the Bay Bridge during certain periods and is working to expand this operation. All tolls will be collected via E-ZPass and video tolling. Drivers who usually pay with cash can move through the plaza without stopping. They are mailed a statement and are charged the cash rate.
Additionally, under severe backups and with weather permitting, MDTA will allow two-way operations on the westbound span, so traffic can move in both directions at speeds of 25 to 35 mph, providing three lanes eastbound and one westbound.
Under normal operations, commercial vehicles are not permitted to travel eastbound on the westbound span during two-way operations. During this two-way operation, due to narrow lanes, commercial trucks and buses will not be allowed to cross westbound, either. MDTA is reaching out to commercial vehicle operators via its notification system, and also has a new tool that allows commercial operators to subscribe to #BayBridgeWork to get text and email updates.
Meanwhile, And a Tier 1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study of location and funding options for a third Chesapeake Bay crossing is moving forward, with three corridors and a “no-build” option now being reviewed. Public open houses on the options are being held through this month. Information is available at baycrossingstudy.com.
Also at MDTA, Governor Hogan’s latest proposed toll rate reductions could save Marylanders $28 million over the next five years. The proposal to reduce tolls for a third time under the Hogan administration is scheduled to be voted on by the MDTA Board on Nov. 21.
MDTA is upgrading toll-collection software and modernizing customer service. All-electronic tolling began Oct. 16 at the Thomas J. Hatem Bridge on the Harford/Cecil county line and will begin Oct. 30 at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.
BWI Marshall is experiencing steadily growing passenger traffic with new airlines and services to new domestic and international markets. In 2018, BWI Marshall set a new all-time annual record for passenger traffic by exceeding 27.1 million passengers.
For the fiscal year 2020, MDOT MAA will provide $2.48 million in state support for Maryland’s public-use airports, including $220,000 for St. Mary’s County Regional Airport to support its runway extension project.
Deputy Secretary Lewis highlighted the latest records at the Port of Baltimore, including its handling of 11 million tons of general cargo in fiscal 2019. The port remains No. 1 in the nation for autos and roll on/roll off machinery. The port is ninth among U.S. ports for dollar value of cargo with $59.7 billion last year.
MDOT officials said they were pleased to work with St. Mary’s County officials on a highway safety plan to address personal injury crashes. The state experienced 513 roadway fatalities in 2018.
Maryland’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan targets the most common causes of roadway fatalities in Maryland: impaired driving; speeding; not wearing seat belts; distracted driving; and not using crosswalks.
Deputy Secretary Lewis encouraged residents and officials in attendance to sign MDOT’s Traffic Safety Pledge, found at: mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/SafetyPledge.html.
The meeting at the Chesapeake Building in Leonardtown was the 16th stop on the annual CTP tour. Each fall, MDOT presents its draft six-year capital program for review and comment. Meetings are held at locations in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City.