October 15, 2019
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
Transportation Officials Announce Local Grants and Key Project Updates
(Easton, MD) – Acting Deputy Transportation Secretary Sean Powell met with Talbot 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 Talbot 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 acting deputy secretary announced an increase in funding through Highway User Revenues (HUR), made possible by bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Larry Hogan last year. Talbot County will receive nearly $1.8 million through HRU this year, an increase of $250,000 over last year's allocation. In addition, the county will receive $32,000 in highway safety grants through MDOT MVA.
MDOT team members representing the agency's business units were: Acting Deputy Transportation Secretary Powell; Field Operations Director Rhashad Johnson from MDOT MVA; Local Transit Support Director Travis Johnston from the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA); Deputy Administrator Jason Ridgway from the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); Regional Aviation Assistance Director Ashish Solanki from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA); Harbor Development Director Kristen Fidler from the MDOT Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA); and Planning & Program Development Director Melissa Williams from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).
MDOT SHA is working on several projects in Talbot County, including an estimated $3.1 million project to add dedicated left- and right-turn lanes on MD 322 at Glenwood Avenue. More than 16,000 vehicles cross this intersection on MD 322 each day. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2020.
MDOT SHA is nearly finished a $1.7 million patching and resurfacing project on MD 331 from US 50 to the Dover Bridge.
On US 50, MDOT SHA is moving forward with a project to add sidewalks between MD 328 and MD 331, as well as pedestrian signals at these busy intersections. Average daily traffic volume on this stretch of US 50 has grown to almost 40,000 vehicles. MDOT SHA also plans to enhance median landscaping and restrict left turns from Lomax Street onto westbound US 50. Work on the $4 million project is slated to begin in fall 2020.
In St. Michael's, a project under the Safe Routes to School program will provide a 10-foot wide, ADA-compliant asphalt trail along Seymour Avenue, connecting county school facilities and the community. Construction began in July and is expected to be completed by the end of October.
MDOT MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Talbot County, including $1.1 million in operating and capital grants to support the local transit operation in conjunction with Caroline and Kent counties. The funds will pay for the replacement of one small bus, a minivan and ongoing preventive maintenance. In addition, $478,000 is being provided to nonprofits that serve local transportation needs of seniors and people with disabilities.
Delmarva Community Services will receive $90,000 in FY 2020-2022 through the Maryland-Job Access and Reverse Commute program. This funding will allow for expansion of service to and from employment sectors in the areas of Cambridge, Easton and Federalsburg.
MDOT MVA Director of Field Operations Johnson provided an update on federal REAL ID compliance, noting that 47 percent of Talbot County residents are REAL ID Ready in advance of the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline. He also touted the fact that MDOT MVA employees have received 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, which is closed 24/7 through April, with additional continuous closures Monday through Friday in May, when traffic volumes are at their lowest. 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 from noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays for the duration of the project. 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 will reach 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.
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 is set to begin Oct. 16 at the Thomas J. Hatem Bridge and Oct. 30 at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.
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.
Acting Deputy Secretary Powell 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.
BWI Marshall is experiencing steadily growing passenger traffic with new airlines and service 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 fiscal 2020, MDOT MAA will provide $2.48 million in state support for Maryland's public-use airports, including $353,595 in state funding for Easton Airport. The funding will be used for land acquisition and a vehicle for snow removal and emergency response.
MDOT officials said they were pleased to work with Talbot 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 in Maryland: 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 Talbot County Community Center was the 14th 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 full CTP tour schedule, visit: https://bit.ly/2mhwlHn. To view the Draft CTP, visit: ctp.maryland.gov. Following input from the 24 local jurisdictions, MDOT prepares a final budget to present to the General Assembly in January.
Follow MDOT on Twitter at @MDOTNews and stay updated on the CTP Tour with #MDOTCTPtour. Find the latest news at mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/News/News.html and view photos on Flickr.