Transportation Officials Announce Local Grants and Key Project Updates
News Release, Maryland Department of Transportation
(La Plata, MD) – Acting Deputy Transportation Secretary Sean Powell met with Charles 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 annual tour of 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City to update local 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 additional $3.1 billion investment in Maryland’s 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.
Acting Deputy Secretary Powell and other MDOT officials outlined key updates on transportation investments in Charles County and across Maryland. Statewide, there are 718 airports, 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. Charles County will receive $2,789,317 through HUR this year, an increase of $225,120 over last year’s allocation. In addition, the county will receive $79,020 in highway safety grants through MDOT MVA, benefiting programs for the county Sheriff’s Office and the La Plata Police Department.
MDOT team members representing the agency’s business units at the meeting were: Acting Deputy Transportation Secretary Powell; MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, Administrator Kevin Quinn from the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA); Deputy Administrator Jason Ridgway from the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); Planning and Program Development Director Melissa Williams from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA); and Regional Aviation Assistance Office Director Ashish Solanki from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA).
MDOT SHA noted progress on several projects in Charles County, including completion of a $1.7 million project to rehabilitate the MD 224 Bridge over Thorne Gut near LaPlata and construction on the $18 million replacement of the MD 254 Bridge over Neale Sound.
Officials also noted the use of cutting-edge Smart Traffic Signals to monitor real-time traffic conditions. MDOT SHA is using computer software that adjusts the timing of traffic signals and synchronizes the corridor. This technology is being installed along a section of US 301 in Waldorf.
MDOT is working with local partners to deliver bicycle and pedestrian projects, including eight projects totaling $4.3 million in federal grant funds. MDOT SHA also announced a new $64,000 grant through the Maryland Bikeways Program to study extending Indian Head Rail Trail to connect with Three Notch Trail in St. Mary’s County.
In addition, officials offered an overview of the $769 million projects to replace the Nice/Middleton Bridge and its facilities. The project is currently in the procurement process.
MDOT MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Charles County through the operation of five Commuter Bus routes and by providing $3.73 million in operating and capital grants to support the local VanGo transit operation. Local transit funding includes two small bus replacements, facility design, and engineering, preventive maintenance and the Rideshare program. Additionally, $197,276 in FY 2020-21 will assist nonprofits serving the transportation needs of seniors and people with disabilities.
MDOT MTA continues to work on a new Charles County transit facility to support the VanGo operation. Phase II, which included site selection, cost estimates, and preliminary NEPA, is complete. Design and engineering will begin in FY 2020.
The county was also awarded $461,000 in operating funds for fiscal years 2020 to 2022 through the Job Access and Reverse Commute program. The funding will allow operation of a new route to employment areas of Old Washington Avenue, Western Parkway and MD 301 north of Smallwood Drive to Brandywine Crossing in Prince George’s County. In addition, The Spring Dell Center was awarded $164,000 for FY 2020-22 to help transport people to employment sectors in Waldorf, LaPlata and other locations.
MDOT MVA Administrator Nizer provided an update on federal REAL ID compliance, noting that 53.4 percent of Charles County residents are REAL ID Ready in advance of the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline. She also touted the fact that MDOT MVA employees have a 98 percent satisfaction rating from customers.
The $27 million Bay Bridge rehabilitation project was also discussed. The project involves replacing the deck surface of the westbound span right lane, sealing the deck and replacing lane signal gantries and steel rail posts. To help keep traffic flowing, MDTA has implemented cashless tolling at the Bay Bridge during certain times and is working on a directive from Governor Hogan to make that full-time.
Also at MDTA, the governor’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 is operational at the Thomas J. Hatem Bridge and will go into effect Oct. 30 at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.
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 under review. Public open houses on the options concluded this month. Details are available at baycrossingstudy.com.
Acting Deputy Secretary Powell highlighted 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 rolls on/roll off machinery, and ninth among U.S. ports for the dollar value of cargo with $59.7 billion last year.
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.
MDOT officials said they were pleased to work with Charles County officials on a highway safety plan to address personal injury crashes in Maryland. The state experienced 513 roadway fatalities in 2018.
Maryland’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan targets the most common causes of roadway fatalities: impaired driving; speeding; not wearing seat belts; distracted driving; and not using crosswalks. Acting Deputy Secretary Powell 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 Charles County Government Building in La Plata was the 18th 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.
To view the CTP tour schedule, visit: https://bit.ly/2mhwlHn. To view the Draft CTP, visit: ctp.maryland.gov. Following input from the 24 jurisdictions, MDOT prepares a final budget to present to the General Assembly in January.