November 05, 2019
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
Transportation Officials Announce Key Project Updates
(Snow Hill, MD) – Deputy Transportation Secretary R. Earl Lewis Jr. met with Worcester 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, MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) facilities, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, and the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall). Officials also discussed the Maryland Transportation Authority's (MDTA) additional investments of $3.1 billion 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.
Deputy Secretary Lewis outlined key updates on transportation investments in Worcester County and across Maryland. Statewide, there are 718 airport, highway, transit, port, bicycle, and MDOT MVA construction projects underway, with a value of $7.2 billion.
In addition to these projects, Deputy Secretary Lewis announced an increase in funding through Highway User Revenues, made possible by bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Larry Hogan last year. Worcester County will receive $2,362,559 in Highway User Revenues this year, an increase of $297,860 over last year's allocation. The county will also receive $50,953 in highway safety grants funded through MDOT MVA.
MDOT team members representing the agency's business units were: Deputy Transportation Secretary Lewis; Regional Aviation Assistance Director Ashish Solanki from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA); Deputy Administrator Leslie Dews 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); and Melissa Williams, Director of Planning and Program Development, from the MDTA.
Officials provided updates on major projects and system preservation projects in Worcester County.
In Berlin, MDOT SHA is improving access to Atlantic General Hospital and related facilities. This fall, the agency began construction on a $1.1 million project to widen MD 346 between US 113 and Healthway Drive, including a dedicated right-turn lane from Healthway Drive to US 113 and sidewalks on the north side of MD 346. MDOT SHA also will extend the southbound US 113 left-turn lane onto MD 346. The overall project is expected to be completed by June 2020.
Officials said they also expect to finish work by June 2020 on the $75 million US 113 dualization project from MD 365 to Five Mile Branch near Snow Hill. When completed, all 38 miles of US 113 in Maryland will be a dualized highway.
In Ocean City, work is near the midway point on a three-year rehabilitation project for the US 50 Harry Kelly Bridge. In West Ocean City, construction of a 10-foot-wide shared use path along US 50 is nearly complete. This project will enhance pedestrian and cyclist safety. When combined with existing infrastructure, the project will provide a continuous pedestrian path from MD 611 across Sinepuxent Bay into downtown Ocean City. Overall in Worcester County, MDOT is partnering on six bike and pedestrian projects totaling $166,000 in federal grant funds and one project totaling $30,000 in state grant funds.
MDOT SHA has begun building a second left-turn lane from eastbound US 50 to MD 589. The $3 million project will be completed by spring, and will help address the high volume of traffic traveling near the Ocean Pines area.
And earlier this year, MDOT SHA completed a project to help protect horses on Assateague Island, adding rumble strips and signage along MD 611 from Sinepuxent Bay to Assateague State Park.
MDOT MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Worcester County, including $4.2 million in operating and capital grants to Shore Transit to support the local transit operation in conjunction with Wicomico and Somerset counties. This funding includes three medium-duty bus replacements, three small-bus replacements, mobility management and ongoing preventive maintenance.
MDOT MTA also supports the Ocean City transit system. In Fiscal Year 2020, the town of Ocean City will receive $6.5 million in operating and capital funding for its transit system. This includes $5 million for the third phase of construction of a new transit facility, as part of an $18 million commitment from MDOT MTA.
Additionally, $267,000 will be provided in FY 2020 and 2021 to the Worcester County Commission on Aging and nonprofits that serve the transportation needs of local seniors and people with disabilities. This money will support the Community for Life program in Ocean Pines, which helps adults 65 and over by providing grocery and social event trips, medical transportation, phone call check-ins, light handyman services, and screening of vendors.
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, and 11th for total foreign cargo tonnage with 43 million tons.
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 $9,643 to Ocean City Municipal Airport.
The $27 million Bay Bridge rehabilitation project was also discussed. The project involves replacing the deck surface of the westbound span right lane. 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 during certain periods, when tolls are 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.
Governor Hogan recently instructed MDTA to shorten the duration of the project and mitigate its impacts on traffic. Extra crews have started working around the clock, seven days a week. Crews also have begun making repairs simultaneously in multiple work zones in different areas of the lane. MDTA is working to make cashless tolling full-time, and is exploring alternate milling methods and overlay materials that may speed up the project further. As part of this commitment, the contractor has agreed to work through Thanksgiving week.
Also at MDTA, Governor Hogan's latest proposed toll rate reductions could save Marylanders about $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 and Oct. 30 at the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
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, including two in Anne Arundel County, were held in recent weeks. Updates and additional information is available at baycrossingstudy.com.
MDOT MVA Deputy Administrator Dews provided an update on federal REAL ID compliance, noting that 49 percent of Worcester 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 customer satisfaction rating.
She encouraged Worcester County officials to partner on a Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Maryland experienced 513 roadway fatalities in 2018. The state'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 County Government Building in Snow Hill was the 23rd 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.