FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 30, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS WITH WICOMICO COUNTY
OFFICIALS AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR
TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES
Transportation Secretary Outlines Budget
and Provides Key Project Updates
SALISBURY, MD – Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater met with Wicomico 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 – FY 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 noted the critical role 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. MTA recently resumed full scheduled service on MARC and Commuter Bus as many riders reduce teleworking and return to work onsite.
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 also at port, airport and motor vehicle facilities.
Along with a focus on system preservation, major projects, 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.
Finally, Secretary Slater highlighted $16.8 million in grants, recently announced by Gov. Hogan, to support bicycle, pedestrian and trail improvements through 42 projects across the state. The City of Salisbury will receive more than $597,000 in Transportation Alternatives Program funding to design 8.9 miles of on-street bikeways on 15 streets in key areas, including pedestrian crossing improvements. All facilities will be designed to tie into existing routes or routes scheduled for implementation in the next two years.
The City of Salisbury also is set to receive $100,000 through the Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network program to construct bike lanes and traffic calming features along West Road in northwest Salisbury.
Through the Recreational Trails Program, Wicomico County will receive $50,000 to construct two stone dust surface trails and associated trailside amenities for the Pirate's Wharf Trail Development project.
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.
He emphasized the need to provide safe access to all users, including people 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.
SHA has projects underway across the state, including Wicomico County. On US 13, the Wicomico River East Branch Bridge replacement project is underway. The $13 million project was divided into two phases to allow for utility relocation before the bridge replacement. SHA completed the first phase in 2019; utility relocations are occurring now. The balance of the project, including replacing the bridge, is expected to begin in 2023.
The SHA in April completed an $8.8 million project to upgrade US 13 Business from north of South Boulevard to north of Calvert Street. The project included upgrades to drainage infrastructure, reconstruction of sidewalks and resurfacing of US 13 Business.
MDTA Capital Planning Director Melissa Williams discussed the Bay Bridge's automated lane closure system, a project that will allow for more efficient opening and closing of lanes for two-way traffic operations on the bridges. The project will include overhead lane-use control signals, dynamic message signs, horizontal swing gates and illuminated pavement markers. Work began in February 2020 on the Eastern Shore and January 2021 in Anne Arundel County. The project includes reconstructing and realigning US 50 eastbound in the former toll plaza area. In fall 2022, the automated lane closure system is expected to be in place in both directions of US 50.
Director Williams noted that 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.
In addition, Director Williams said 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 also 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.
Finally, she 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 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 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.
MTA Local Transit Support Director Travis Johnston discussed the agency's investments and priorities throughout the state, including keeping the transit system in a state of good repair.
He also discussed MTA's first 50-year Statewide Transit Plan, expected to be complete by the end of the year. 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.
In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, MTA is transitioning toward a zero-emission bus fleet, investing more than $269 million for its zero-emission vehicles program, bus pilots and bus procurements.
MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Wicomico County, providing $5 million in operating and capital grants to the Tri-County Council of the Lower Eastern Shore to support Shore Transit. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wicomico County will receive nearly $8 million in federal relief funds to support transit operations and/or capital needs of the county as provided by Shore Transit.
MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer reminded those in attendance that MVA remains under an appointment only operation, allowing the administration to efficiently serve more customers. 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, 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.
MVA offers more transactions online than ever before and customers are taking advantage of those services more than ever. Those services will only be 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 agency 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 protects a customer's personal information.
Administrator Nizer also provided an update on the federal REAL ID requirement. 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 $150,000 for organizations and law enforcement agencies in Wicomico County to address highway safety.
MAA Local Aviation Support Director Ashish Solanki 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 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, the 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. Improvements will include direct concourse-to-concourse connectivity for passengers, new food and retail concessions, modern restrooms and expanded airline hold rooms, all atop a new baggage handling system.
MAA also is moving forward on-site preparation and utility work that will support construction of a major aircraft maintenance facility for Southwest, the carrier's first such maintenance hangar in the Northeast.
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.