FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 24, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS WITH CECIL COUNTY
OFFICIALS AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR
TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES
Transportation Secretary Outlines Budget
and Provides Key Project Updates
ELKTON, MD – Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater met with Cecil 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.
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. 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 several in Cecil County. In Elkton, at US 40 and Nottingham Road, SHA is extending acceleration and deceleration lanes, fully signalizing the intersection and relocating the traffic island. SHA is coordinating construction with Cecil County's utility work and anticipates starting construction of this $1.8 million project in spring 2022, with completion in fall 2022.
In North East, SHA is continuing work on MD 272 improvements from south of US 40 to Rogers Road. Work includes widening MD 272 to provide dedicated right turns at US 40, drainage improvements, the addition of sidewalk and bicycle accommodations and signal improvements. This $4.3 million project is anticipate to be completed this fall.
Also in North East, SHA is completing its MD 272 Amtrak Northeast Corridor bridge replacement project. Construction of this $31 million project was substantively complete in December 2020. Crews are completing remaining improvements this fall. Farther north, SHA opened the new $10 million MD 273 Big Elk Creek bridge to service in April. Crews are completing the remaining elements of the project through the fall.
Regarding Maryland toll facilities, MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports noted progress on the I-95 at Belvidere Road interchange project. A design-builder for the project is expected to be selected this fall, with construction beginning in summer 2022.
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.
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.
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.
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 erenew metro tunnel, track, systems and stations; and
- $264 million for repairing and rehabbing light rail structures, track, systems and stations.
The MARC Riverside Heavy Maintenance facility is currently under construction in Baltimore. Total investment in facility is nearly $65 million. 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 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.
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.
The MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Cecil County, providing $2.8 million in operating and capital grants to support Cecil Transit operations. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cecil County will receive $6 million in federal relief funds to support transit operations and/or capital needs.
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, 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 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 more than $32,000 for law enforcement agencies in Cecil County to address highway safety.
Kristen Keene, Chief of Strategy and Partnerships in the MPA Office of Harbor Development, provided an update on the Port of Baltimore and Port activities across the state. Carnival Cruise Lines restarted cruising from the Port of Baltimore on September 12. Royal Caribbean is scheduled to restart from Baltimore on December 23.
The Port has more than $250 million in state of good repair needs, not including the need to maintain 135 miles of navigable channels at a cost of $100 million annually. Those channels are necessary to support the larger post-Panamax ships at the Port.
Dredging was completed in April on a second 50-foot-deep container berth at the Port's Seagirt Marine Terminal. The deeper berth will allow the Port to accommodate two ultra-large ships simultaneously. Four supersized, neo-Panamax cranes arrived in Baltimore September 9, and the berth will become operational later this year.
The Draft CTP includes $202.5 million toward the Howard Street Tunnel project In Baltimore. This project will reconstruct the 126-year-old tunnel – owned by CSX – to allow for double-stacked container trains to and from the Port of Baltimore. Following final CSX engineering and permitting, construction on the project is expected in phases to begin later this year.
The MPA also is reconstructing Berth 3 at Dundalk Marine Terminal to better accommodate larger and heavier pieces of farm and construction machinery. In addition, MPA is expanding its Cox Creek dredged material containment site.
MAA Regional Aviation Director Ashish Solanki said 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.