FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 29, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS WITH BALTIMORE COUNTY
OFFICIALS AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR
TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES
Transportation Secretary Outlines Budget
and Provides Key Project Updates
TOWSON, MD – Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater met with Baltimore 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. A $120,000 grant through the Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program, will fund a feasibility study to address a trail gap between Torrey C. Brown Trail at Ashland Road in Baltimore County and the Jones Falls Trail in Mount Washington Village. Baltimore County also will receive nearly $63,000 through the Recreational Trails Program. This program focuses on investments that improve and preserve the statewide recreational trail network. The funds will be used to resurface the Hiker-Biker and Black Marsh trails at North Point State Park to improve drainage, safety and trail sustainability.
SHA Administrator Tim Smith discussed the importance of maintaining the state's highways and bridges. As SHA works to complete 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 Baltimore County. On the southwest side of I-695, SHA continues to advance outer loop improvements from south of US 40 to MD 144. SHA anticipates completing this $133 million project, which includes a fourth lane on the outer loop, this fall.
Farther north, the I-695 Transportation Systems Management and Operations improvement project will deliver additional capacity between I-70 and MD 43. This $174 million project will provide an additional lane of traffic during peak hours on the inner and outer loops. Construction is expected to begin this winter.
At Tradepoint Atlantic, SHA is continuing work to replace three bridges. This $31 million project includes replacing the MD 151 bridge over Wharf Road, the Wharf Road bridge over Tradepoint Rail and the Wharf Road bridge over the ramp to southbound MD 151. SHA expects to open these bridges in summer 2024.
At the I-95/I-695 interchange southwest of Baltimore, SHA is investing $25 million to prolong the life of 10 bridge decks beginning in 2022.
Finally, Administrator Smith highlighted $13 million in intersection improvements at MD 147 (Harford Road) and Joppa Road. Construction of the project, done in conjunction with the county's water main replacement, is anticipated to be complete in fall 2022.
MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports 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.
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 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, Executive Director Ports 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.
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.
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.
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 Baltimore County, providing more than $842,000 in operating and capital grants to support the local County Ride transit operation. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baltimore County will receive nearly $1.1 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 be enhanced further 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 more than $2.4 million for organizations and law enforcement agencies in Baltimore County to address highway safety.
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. 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 on September 9, and the berth is expected to be 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, 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.
Martin State Airport Maintenance and Operations Chief Al Pollard 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 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, 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 Year 2022 for regional airports across Maryland.