FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 2, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS WITH TALBOT COUNTY
OFFICIALS AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR
TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES
Deputy Transportation Secretary Outlines Budget
and Provides Key Project Updates
EASTON, MD – Maryland Deputy Transportation Secretary Sean Powell met with Talbot 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 Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg 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.
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, Deputy Secretary Powell 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 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 work in Talbot County. Along US 50 in Easton, SHA is upgrading safety and access from Dutchman's Lane to north of Lomax Street. This effort includes new sidewalks, raised landscaped medians, turn lane extensions and pedestrian signaling at MD 328 and MD 331. Construction of this $4 million project is anticipated to begin in summer 2022 and be completed in spring 2023.
SHA also is advancing MD 322 safety improvements at Glenwood Avenue. This includes widening MD 322 to provide left-turn lanes in both directions. Construction of this $3.2 million project is anticipated to begin in fall 2022 and be completed in summer 2023.
This month, SHA is launching a $2 million project to reconstruct sidewalks along MD 33 in historic St. Michaels. This project will improve pedestrian access and safety, and includes ramps and crosswalks built to current ADA standards. SHA is working with the Town of St. Michaels to maintain the historic character of the downtown area, reusing many existing brick pavers and granite materials for the project, and replacing some concrete sections with brick and granite. The project will take place over two years, with work focused between fall and spring to avoid the busiest tourist seasons.
Easton has received $947,000 in Recreational Trails Program grant funding to build additional segments of the Easton Rail Trail Spur Line, a key bicycle/pedestrian connection. This additional work will build on the work already completed and in progress by the town and developers. Construction from Aurora Street to Tubman Lane is anticipated to begin in late fall and be completed in 2022.
MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports discussed the Bay Bridge's automated lane closure system, a project that will allow more efficient opening and closing of lanes for two-way traffic operations on the bridge spans. The project will include overhead lane-use control signals, dynamic message signs, horizontal swing gates and illuminated pavement markers.
Work on the automated lane closure system 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 system is expected to be in place in both directions of US 50.
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.
Executive Director Ports also discussed statewide implementation of all-electronic tolling. 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.
In addition, he 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 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.
MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Talbot County by providing nearly $2.3 million in operating and capital grants to support Delmarva Community Transit in conjunction with Caroline and Kent counties. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Talbot County in conjunction with Caroline and Kent counties will receive nearly $1.3 million in federal relief funds to support transit operations and/or capital needs for Delmarva Community 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. Services will be enhanced with the final rollout of MVA's IT modernization project, 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 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 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 83% of Marylanders are REAL ID compliant, one of the highest in the nation. She also discussed the Hogan Administration's recent announcement of $33,000 for organizations and law enforcement agencies in Talbot County to address highway safety.
MPA Harbor Development Director Kristen Fidler said 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 the Port's key cargo commodities (cars, containers, farm and construction machinery, paper and general cargo) are up significantly since then.
Director Fidler 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 has been completed on a second, 50-foot-deep berth at the Port's Seagirt Marine Terminal. A deeper berth will allow the Port to accommodate two ultra-large ships simultaneously. Four supersized, Neo-Panamax cranes arrived September 9, and the berth is expected to be operational later this year.
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.
MAA Regional Aviation Assistance Director Ashish Solanki said MAA remains focused on improving facilities and services for customers while creating opportunities for domestic and international service. Driven by the mission to provide safe, reliable and efficient service, 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. The Concourse A/B Connector and Baggage Handling System Project will create an enhanced travel experience for passengers and supporting future growth of Southwest. Improvements 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 also advancing site preparation and utility work to support construction of a major aircraft maintenance facility for Southwest, the carrier's first such maintenance hangar in the Northeast.
MAA continues to support aviation by working with its 35 public-use airports in the state. Through the Statewide Aviation Grants program that provides state funding and support for airport improvements across Maryland, MAA intends to administer $1.6 million in grants during FY 2022. Easton Airport will receive $300,000 in state aviation grant assistance for obstruction removal.