FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 20, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS VIRTUALLY WITH BALTIMORE CITY
OFFICIALS AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR
TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES
Transportation Secretary Outlines Budget and Provides Key Project Updates
BALTIMORE CITY, MD – Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater met with Baltimore City officials today to discuss the Draft FY 2022 –FY 2027 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), which details the Maryland Department of Transportation's (MDOT) six-year capital budget. The 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 $16.4 billion investment over the next six years in transit, highways, motor vehicle services, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Officials also discussed the Maryland Transportation Authority's (MDTA) $2.8 billion in additional investments in Maryland's toll roads and bridges. More information on the CTP process is available at http://ctp.maryland.gov.
“As promised, we crafted this budget to invest in preserving our aging infrastructure, delivering projects to support Maryland's economic recovery and creating a shelf of projects for the next generation," said Transportation Secretary Slater. “This approach to infrastructure investment allows us to maintain a state of good repair and be ready to quickly move projects into construction with any new federal transportation funding."
The Draft CTP outlines investments in each of MDOT's transportation business units funded by the Transportation Trust Fund, including: Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA), Maryland Port Administration (MPA), Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), State Highway Administration (SHA) and The Secretary's Office (TSO). The FY 2022 operating budget totals $2.24 billion.
This $16.4 billion Draft FY 2022 – FY 2027 capital budget focuses on system preservation, major projects, planning and engineering. About half of the budget – $8.2 billion – is going toward preserving aging infrastructure.
Secretary Slater outlined numerous investments in Baltimore City's transportation system, including the ongoing study of two new transit corridors as part of the Regional Transit Plan: an east-west route from Bayview through downtown Baltimore to greater Ellicott City in Howard County, and a north-south route between Towson in Baltimore County and downtown Baltimore. The Regional Transit Plan East-West Corridor Study is looking at different alignments and alternatives, including bus rapid transit, metro subway and light rail.
MDOT also is working to address a passenger rail bottleneck and a critical operational need in Baltimore with a new Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel, recently renamed the Frederick Douglass Tunnel. The nearly 150-year-old structure is not in a state of good repair. Construction of the project will generate thousands of jobs and improve the safety, reliability and efficiency of the rail system in Maryland and the rest of the Northeast Corridor.
Secretary Slater noted the MTA is facing an additional $2 billion in other state of good repair needs on its transit network. MDOT as a whole is facing a $7 billion state of good repair backlog, including needs on highways and bridges, and at port, airport and motor vehicle facilities.
Along with a focus on system preservation, major projects and planning and engineering, Secretary Slater highlighted several other priorities, including:
- delivering infrastructure projects statewide in a way that incorporates technology, flexibility and future growth;
- providing safe and accessible mobility choices for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists, that consider the interplay of land use and transportation decisions; and
- establishing a sustainable, customer-focused transportation vision that incorporates roadway, transit, freight, air and port infrastructure.
Secretary Slater also highlighted bikeway grants made possible through MDOT's Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program. MDOT announced $3.38 million in FY 2022 grants to support bicycle safety and access across the state, including a $326,000 grant for projects in Baltimore City.
SHA Administrator Tim Smith discussed the importance of maintaining the state's highways and bridges. As the SHA works on completing projects throughout the state, its focus remains on asset management, accessibility and mobility.
Administrator Smith emphasized the need to provide safe access to all users, including people who travel by foot, bicycle and scooter. The SHA's Context Driven Guide is changing the way the administration delivers projects. Using these guidelines, SHA considers the context of an area throughout the planning process – including land use and other factors – to determine which options and design features will make the area safer and more accessible for all.
For toll facilities, MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports highlighted that the MDTA last winter reopened the newly constructed I-895 bridges north of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel two months early. The new northbound and southbound I-895 structures replaced the MDTA's only structurally deficient bridge in its inventory. The three-year project to replace the 60-year-old bridges and Holabird Avenue exit ramp and rehabilitate the Harbor Tunnel fully wrapped up in July.
Construction for highway speed all-electronic tolling on new gantries and removal or partial removal of existing toll plazas is underway at the Fort McHenry Tunnel, JFK Memorial Highway and the Nice/Middleton Bridge. A study is underway for the I-895/Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Toll Plaza and Interchange Improvements, which will allow MDTA to bring highway speed all-electronic tolling to the Harbor Tunnel.
Executive Director Ports noted work continues on the $1.1 billion I-95 Express Toll Lanes Northbound Extension northeast of Baltimore to relieve congestion and improve travel along the I-95 Corridor. Construction began in May on the project to widen northbound I-95 between MD 43 (White Marsh Boulevard) and MD 152 (Mountain Road) to make way for an extension of two northbound Express Toll Lanes. The extension is expected to open to traffic by 2024 to MD 152, with the full extension to north of MD 24 open to traffic by 2027.
In February, the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the ongoing Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study was made available for public review and comment at baycrossingstudy.com. The MDTA held in-person and virtual public hearings in April, and the comment period ended in May. The MDTA expects to identify a Selected Corridor Alternative and publish a combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision this winter.
Finally, Executive Director Ports discussed the MDTA's launch of DriveEzMD, the new home for all things tolling in Maryland. The April launch of DriveEzMD included a new website, web chat, customer call center with expanded hours, text notifications and more.
Acting MTA Administrator Holly Arnold discussed the agency's investments and priorities in Baltimore and throughout the state, including keeping the transit system in a state of good repair.
Some key state of good repair investments include:
- $400 million to replace the Metro SubwayLink railcars and signal system;
- $160 million to overhaul major systems on light rail trains to ensure reliable service;
- $54 million to overhaul 63 MARC III passenger coaches;
- $210 million for a five-year contract for clean diesel buses;
- $238 million to rehabilitate and renew metro tunnel, track, systems and stations; and
- $264 million for repair and rehabilitation of light rail structures, track, systems and stations.
The $238 million for rehabilitating and renewing metro tunnel, track, systems and stations includes ongoing upgrades to replace train control throughout the system, implementation of Metro single tracking on weekends and supplemental bus budges when and where needed and, in the next six months, the start of station improvements to replace elevators at Mondawmin Station and improve ADA pavement and stairs at the Reisterstown Plaza Station.
Regarding the $264 million for repairing and rehabbing light rail structures, track, systems and stations: Trackwork is currently being completed to replace three interlockings and rail on 10 curves between Mount Royal and North Avenue. Single tracking and a supplemental bus bridge are available to transport passengers between Camden Yards and Falls Road. Work is expected to be completed in October. In the next six months, track work will begin to rehab South End curves and replace the Patapsco River Bridge Ties, impacting stations from south of Hamburg. The repairs and upgrades will ultimately result in fewer disruptions for riders and greater overall system performance.
The MARC Riverside Heavy Maintenance facility is currently under construction in Baltimore. Total investment in the facility is nearly $65 million, including $47 million in the Draft CTP. When finished, this state-of-the-art facility will enable MTA to enhance its locomotive and railcar maintenance capabilities and will help support major transit infrastructure improvements along the Northeast Corridor.
Acting Administrator Arnold also discussed the MTA's first 50-year Statewide Transit Plan, expected to be complete by the end of 2021. Building upon existing regional and local transit plans across the state, the plan will outline a 50-year vision for transit in Maryland help define transit needs across the state for future generations.
The MTA remains committed to focusing on the customer experience. The Draft CTP budgets $43 million for new dedicated bus lanes, bus stops and transit hubs including wayfinding, bike and shared mobility initiatives and improvements related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
These commitments build upon the strong foundation and progress MTA has established to improve the transit experience and system reliability for our riders, including:
- recognition as the safest transit system in the U.S. for the last seven years,
- implementation of CharmPass mobile ticketing,
- improving bus reliability with dedicated bus lanes, and
- expansion of real-time information to MARC Train and Commuter Bus.
Acting Administrator Arnold discussed the MTA's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The administration is aggressively transitioning toward a zero-emission bus fleet, investing more than $269 million in its zero-emission vehicles program, bus pilots and bus procurements.
MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer reminded those in attendance that the MVA remains under an appointment only model, allowing the administration to serve more customers efficiently. Most branches have returned to pre-pandemic levels or are exceeding monthly transactions from previous years.
Among other recent changes, MVA customers can now renew a license up to 12 months in advance. The agency has extended the new photo requirement for licenses from every eight years to every 16 years. For Commercial Driver's License customers, expiration dates on all CDL products will change from five years to eight years, the same as the non-commercial license.
The MVA offers more transactions online than ever before and customers are taking advantage of those services more than ever. Those services will be further enhanced with the final rollout of MVA's IT modernization project known as Customer Connect in December.
Phase 1 of Customer Connect was completed in July 2020. Phase 2 will include driver services, driver enforcement, investigations, and financial services. At full deployment, Customer Connect will consolidate existing IT systems at MVA into a single portal, giving the MVA a complete view of the customer and real-time updates, which decreases delays for customers.
For customers, this means greater access to their information online and a more secure product with the implementation of MD ID, a randomly generated number that will protect a customer's personal information.
Administrator Nizer also provided an updated on REAL ID. The MVA is working hard to ensure every Marylander is prepared for the new deadline of May 3, 2023. Currently 82% of Marylanders are REAL ID compliant, one of the highest percentages in the nation.
Administrator Nizer, who serves as Governor Hogan's Highway Safety Representative, discussed the Hogan Administration's recent announcement of more than $1.8 million for organizations and law enforcement agencies in Baltimore City to address highway safety.
MDOT MPA Executive Director William P. Doyle outlined how the Port of Baltimore's state-owned, public marine terminals have bounced back strong since the early months of COVID-19, when the entire international maritime industry was negatively affected. All of the Port's key cargo commodities (cars, containers, farm and construction machinery, paper, and general cargo) are up significantly since that time.
Executive Director Doyle noted the Port of Baltimore has approximately $250 million in state of good repair needs, not including the $100 million needed annually to maintain 135 miles of navigable shipping channels to ensure they can accommodate large ships. The MPA also is expanding its Cox Creek dredged material containment site to hold additional dredged sediment from channels leading to the Port of Baltimore.
Dredging was completed in April on a second, 50-foot-deep container berth at the Port of Baltimore's Seagirt Marine Terminal. A deeper berth will allow the Port to accommodate two ultra-large ships simultaneously. Four supersized, Neo-Panamax cranes arrived in Baltimore n September 9, and the berth will become operational later this year.
MDOT MPA also is reconstructing Berth 3 at Dundalk Marine Terminal to better accommodate larger and heavier pieces of farm and construction machinery.
Working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration, the MPA recently announced approval of the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document for the planned expansion of the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. This project will reconstruct the CSX-owned, 126-year-old tunnel to allow for double-stacked container trains to and from the Port of Baltimore. This project will generate 6,550 construction jobs while an additional 7,300 jobs would be created because of the increased business.
Carnival Cruise Line restarted cruising from the Port of Baltimore on September 12. Royal Caribbean is scheduled to restart cruises from Baltimore in December.
For MAA, BWI Marshall Deputy Director of Planning and Environmental Services Shawn Ames said the capital program remains focused on improving facilities and services for customers while creating opportunities for domestic and international air service.
Driven by the need to provide exceptional service to customers in the safest, most reliable and efficient manner, system preservation projects include: an airport-wide restroom renovation program; aviation fuel storage replacement and expansion; electrical feeder replacements; airfield lighting vault upgrades; and passenger boarding bridge replacement.
After a short pause due to the pandemic, MDOT MAA is moving forward with a major, multi-year terminal improvement to the center of operations for Southwest Airlines, the largest airline partner at BWI Marshall. The Concourse A/B Connector and Baggage Handling System Project will transform a major portion of the airport, creating an enhanced travel experience for passengers and supporting future growth of Southwest. The improvements will include direct concourse-to-concourse connectivity for passengers, new food and retail concessions, modern restrooms, and expanded airline hold rooms, all sitting atop a new, sophisticated baggage handling system.
The MAA also is moving forward on major site preparation and utility work that will support construction of a major aircraft maintenance facility for Southwest Airlines, the first such maintenance hangar in the Northeast for the carrier.
MAA will continue to support aviation and airports across Maryland by working with its 35 public-use airports in the state. For the Statewide Aviation Grants program that provides important state funding and support for airport improvement projects, MAA intends to administer $1.6 million in grants during Fiscal 2022 for regional airports across Maryland.