July 23, 2019
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Transportation Secretary Announces Local Grants and Key Project Updates
(Rockville, MD) – Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn met with Montgomery 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 $3.1 billion in additional investments 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 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.
Secretary Rahn outlined key updates on transportation investments in Montgomery 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, the secretary announced an incease in funding through Highway User Revenues, made possible by bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Larry Hogan last year. Montgomery County will receive $14,384,659 in Highway User Revenues this year, an increase of $1,598,335 over last year's allocation.
MDOT team members representing the agency's business units were: Secretary Rahn; Administrator Chrissy Nizer from MDOT MVA; Administrator Kevin Quinn from the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA); Administrator Greg Slater from the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); Executive Director Ricky Smith from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA); and Executive Director Jim Ports from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).
MDOT MTA continues to work on the $5.6 billion Purple Line, the largest transit public-private partnership in the nation. Montgomery County is a partner in the project. The Purple Line is more than 20 percent complete; 12 of the alignment's 16 miles are under construction.
MDOT MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Montgomery County through the operation of MARC Train service, Commuter Bus service and by providing $44.2 million in operating and capital grants to support its local RideOn transit operation.
The MDOT MTA investment of $54 million to overhaul 63 MARC III passenger coaches is underway. The entire fleet will be overhauled by 2021. The project includes upgraded seats, communications, air brakes, HVAC and doors. MDOT MTA also invested $61 million for eight new MARC locomotives.
Secretary Rahn and MDOT SHA Administrator Slater provided updates on the I-495/I-270 Public-Private Partnership (P3) Program, designed to ease congestion on two of the busiest highways in the region. The National Environmental Protection Act managed lanes study is underway. Public workshops are scheduled this month on pre-NEPA activities for a portion of I-270. In the meantime, MDOT continues to build the workforce development program known as Opportunity MDOT.
MDOT is exploring ways that transit can complement the project. Montgomery County is represented on a regional Transit Work Group that is discussing options. Additionally, MDOT committed to dedicating a portion of the state's future toll revenue-sharing proceeds to regional transit projects; allowing transit buses to use future toll lanes for free; and studying the feasibility of monorail.
Delivering on Governor Hogan's promise for dedicated capital funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, MDOT is providing $805 million in operating and capital funds in fiscal 2020. The six-year CTP includes $4.9 billion in WMATA funding.
MDOT SHA has introduced a pedestrian safety-focused program tailored to business districts with dense populations and multi-modal transportation demands. The efforts include the installation of traffic calming measures in central business districts, narrowing lanes, reducing speeds and constructing continental crosswalks.
After studying a number of corridors in Montgomery County, MDOT SHA reduced speed limits on several routes, including MD 190 (River Road), MD 187 (Old Georgetown Road) and MD 97 (Georgia Avenue). MDOT SHA will continue to evaluate corridors to make safety enhancements.
Work is continuing on two important projects: the $7.2 million Seminary Road Bridge over I-495, and
the $1.9 million resurfacing on US 29 between MD 384 and St. Andrews Way.
Work is also continuing on the I-270 Innovative Congestion Management project in Montgomery and Frederick counties. This $131 million project will reduce time spent in traffic for commuters on I-270, though roadway and technological enhancements. Construction is complete at six of the 14 project locations: MD 80; MD 109; the I-370 Interchange; local lanes to Shady Grove and Falls roads; the I-270/I-495 split; and the Express Lanes from Democracy Boulevard to Montrose Road.
Also on I-270, construction continues on the Watkins Mill Road interchange in Gaithersburg.
The $121 million project will carry Watkins Mill Road over I-270 and bridge an existing divide between residents and commerce in the heart of Gaithersburg. The new Watkins Mill interchange is 80 percent complete and expected to open to traffic next summer.
MDOT SHA is also making progress on the $44 million project to realign MD 97 around Brookeville.
Administrator Slater thanked Montgomery officials for the county's $10 million contribution to the project, which will reduce congestion in the town and improve traffic operations along Georgia Avenue. It is expected to be complete by fall 2021.
On MD 355, construction continues on the bridge over Little Bennett Creek. MDOT SHA has opened a temporary bypass road. Construction of the $10.4 million bridge is expected to be complete in fall 2020.
MDOT is also working with state, county, and local partners in Montgomery County to deliver bicycle and pedestrian projects using Transportation Alternatives, Recreation Trails, and Bikeways grant programs. Currently, MDOT is partnering on 18 projects totaling $12.1 million in federal grant funds and three projects totaling $800,00 in state grant funds. These include: the North Branch Hiker-Biker Trail; the Ethan Allen Gateway Streetscape; and the Takoma Park-Lincoln Avenue Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Project.
In addition, Administrator Slater announced recent awards:
- $1.23 million for design of the Falls Road Shaed Use Path;
- $1.027 million to rehabilitate 12 miles of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath;
- $280,000 for design of the North Stonestreet Avenue Street and Sidewalk Improvements;
- $50,000 for parking, ADA and restroom work at the Audubon Naturalist Society Nature Trail;
- $235,000 for the design of the New Hampshire Avenue Bikeway; and
- $86,500 for educational programming for bicycle and pedestrians in Takoma Park schools.
MDOT MVA Administrator Nizer provided an update on federal REAL ID compliance, noting that 54 percent of Montgomery County residents are REAL ID Ready in advance of the Oct. 1, 2020 deadline. She also said MDOT MVA employees have received a 98 percent satisfaction rating from customers.
Secretary Rahn highlighted the 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 $29,280 for Davis Airport in Laytonsville, to support permitting fees.
The $27 million Bay Bridge rehabilitation project was also discussed. Work includes deck repairs, sealing the deck and replacing lane signal gantries and steel rail posts. To help keep traffic flowing, MDTA has implemented cashless tolling during certain periods, and is working to make that practice full time. In cashless tolling at the Bay Bridge, 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 Bay Bridge project and mitigate its impacts on traffic. Extra crews have started working around the clock, seven days a week. The contractor has agreed to work through Thanksgiving week.
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 underway at the Thomas J. Hatem and Francis Scott Key bridges.
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. Information is available at baycrossingstudy.com.
Secretary Rahn commended Montgomery County officials for completing the state's first 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.
Secretary Rahn encouraged residents and officials to sign MDOT's Traffic Safety Pledge, found at: mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/SafetyPledge.html.
The meeting at the Montgomery County Office Building was the 22nd 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.