FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 22, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS VIRTUALLY WITH HOWARD COUNTY
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 Howard County 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 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 – 2027 capital budget focuses on system preservation, major projects, planning and engineering. More than half of the budget – $8.2 billion – will go toward preserving aging infrastructure.
Secretary Slater outlined numerous investments in Howard County'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.
The secretary noted the critical role the MTA played in making sure essential workers could perform their duties during the pandemic. Today, ridership across MTA core services remains consistent, and MTA continues to ensure bus and rail services remain safe and reliable. The MTA has resumed full scheduled service on MARC and Commuter Bus as many riders reduce teleworking and return to work onsite.
The MTA is facing $2 billion in 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 $1.1 million grant for Howard County that will fund design of a shared-use path network along Ten Oaks Road, Guilford Road and MD 108/Clarksville Pike. When completed, these paths will extend Columbia's path network to businesses along Clarksville Pike and across MD 32, increasing biking opportunities and providing expanded transportation options.
The county will also receive $63,500 through the Recreational Trails Program for the Old Ellicott City Connector. This project is in conjunction with the Friends of Patapsco Valley State Park, and will result in a 2-mile natural surface trail connecting the Hollofield area of Patapsco Valley State Park to Sylvan Lane in Ellicott City, along with a trailhead kiosk and trail markers.
SHA Administrator Tim Smith said as the agency works to complete projects throughout the state, its focus remains on asset management, maintenance, accessibility and mobility. He emphasized the need to provide safe access to all users, including those who travel by foot, bicycle and scooter. SHA's Context Driven Guide is changing the way the administration delivers projects. Using these guidelines, SHA considers the context of an area – including surrounding land use and other factors – throughout the planning process to determine which options and design features will make the area safer and more accessible for all.
Administrator Smith provided updates on a number of projects in Howard County, including the $127 million dualization of MD 32 between Linden Church Road and Interstate 70. The project is 75% complete and is anticipated to be finished in summer 2022.
Also in the MD 32 corridor, SHA and Howard County worked together to identify a new north-south bicycle route. SHA is investing $900,000 to address pinch points along Ten Oaks Road to ensure it can accommodate cyclists between Burntwoods and Brighton Dam roads. Design is underway and construction will follow in 2024.
In Columbia, SHA is partnering with Howard County to complete MD 108 intersection improvement at Centennial Lane. This project will add a second eastbound left-turn lane, extend the westbound right-turn lane and widen Centennial Lane to allow for two northbound receiving lanes. Bicycle accommodations will be provided as part of the project. Construction is underway and is anticipated to be complete by summer 2022.
In Ellicott City, SHA is widening MD 103 from US 29 to the Long Gate Shopping Center. The project will provide auxiliary lanes for each approach, extend lanes to match developers' roadway improvements and install sidewalks and bicycle compatible shoulders in both approaches. Construction of this $13 million project is set to begin in fall 2022, with an expected completion date in summer 2023.
For Maryland toll facilities, MDTA Capital Planning Director Melissa Williams noted that work continues on the $1.1 billion I-95 Express Toll Lanes Northbound Extension northeast of Baltimore to relieve congestion and improve travel for commuters and others along the I-95 Corridor. Construction began in May to widen northbound I-95 between MD 43 (White Marsh Boulevard) and MD 152 (Mountain Road) to make way for 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 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.
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.
Director Williams 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.
Last winter the MDTA opened the new 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.
MTA Acting Administrator Holly Arnold discussed the agency's investments and priorities 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 to repair and rehabilitate light rail structures, track, systems and stations.
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. As part of that commitment, the Draft CTP budgets $43 million for new dedicated bus lanes; bus stops and transit hubs, including ADA Improvements, wayfinding and bike and shared mobility. Acting Administrator Arnold discussed the MTA's commitments 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.
Acting Administrator Arnold highlighted MTA's significant investment in transit in Howard County by providing nearly $2.8 million in operating and capital grants to support the county's local transit operation. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard County will receive nearly $16 million in federal relief funds to support transit operations and/or capital needs for the county.
MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer reminded those in attendance that the MVA remains under an appointment only operation, 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, customers can now renew a license up to 12 months in advance. In addition, the MVA extended the new photo requirement from every eight years to every 16 years. For Commercial Driver's License customers, expiration dates on all CDL products will be changing 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. 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 the federal REAL ID requirement. 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 in the nation.
Administrator Nizer, who serves as Governor Hogan's Highway Safety Representative, discussed the Hogan Administration's recent announcement of nearly $550,000 for organizations and law enforcement agencies in Howard County to address highway safety.
BWI Marshall Executive Director Ricky Smith said the MAA's capital program remains focused on improving facilities and services for customers while creating opportunities for domestic and international air service.
Driven by the mission 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.
In addition, MAA is moving forward on major site preparation and utility work that will support construction of a major aircraft maintenance facility for Southwest, 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.