FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 10, 2021
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
Jim Joyner, 410-865-1030
MDOT MEETS VIRTUALLY WITH MONTGOMERY COUNTY
OFFICIALS AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR
TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES
Transportation Secretary Outlines Budget and Provides Key Project Updates
HANOVER, MD – Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater met virtually with Montgomery 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.
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.
Secretary Slater updated officials on the status of the Purple Line light rail project, a 16-mile transit line being built as a public-private partnership between New Carrollton in Prince George's County and Bethesda in Montgomery County. Last week, Purple Line Transit Partners, in partnership with MDOT and MTA, selected Maryland Transit Solutions, comprised of Dragados USA Inc. and OHL USA Inc., as the design-build contractor to complete the Purple Line.
During the search for the design-build contractor over the past year, MTA oversaw more than 150 contracts and achieved many accomplishments on the project including: advancing remaining design components; completing underground and overhead utility relocations; advancing production of rail cars; progressing construction at the Glenridge Operations and Maintenance Facility site, which is needed to be able to accept delivery and test cars; and obtaining final approval for all required Maryland Department of Environment permits.
The next step will be to finalize all three elements of the P3 Agreement - the Design-Build Contractor, the Purple Line Transit Operators and the Purple Line Transit Partners. Then, MDOT and MTA will bring the updated P3 Agreement, with the cost and schedule, to the Board of Public Works in the coming months.
Secretary Slater also highlighted $16.8 million in grants, recently announced by Governor Larry Hogan, to support bicycle, pedestrian and trail improvements through 42 projects across the state.
Through the Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation will receive $52,000 for planning and concept design services for a bikeway network connecting the Bethesda Trolley Trail through North Bethesda (White Flint) Metro Station to Twinbrook Metro Station. The City of Takoma Park will receive $254,000 for final design of a section of bikeway along New Hampshire Avenue between Auburn Avenue and Poplar Avenue.
Montgomery County also will receive Transportation Alternative Program grants. The Montgomery Department of Transportation will receive more than $3.6 million to construct 2,500 linear feet of eight-foot-wide shared-use path along the east side of MD 355 – from Snowden Farm Parkway to just north of Clarksburg Road, and from just south of Clarksburg Road to Stringtown Road. The county also will receive more than $46,000 for pedestrian safety improvements along Cordell Avenue in the area of Bethesda Elementary School, and $20,000 to design pedestrian safety improvements at the intersection of MD 187 and Cordell Avenue.
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. 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 under way across the state, including work in Montgomery County. On I-270, SHA's $132 million Innovative Congestion Management project includes a series of focused infrastructure and technology improvements that will result in more predictable and consistent trips for commuters each day. It includes ramp metering at 22 northbound and 23 southbound entry ramps. SHA began piloting a single location at the northbound entry from MD 118 in June 2021 and activated 23 southbound ramps in September. The full system is expected to be activated in 2022.
The $12 million MD 355 Little Bennett Creek Bridge Replacement was completed this spring, as were, MD 355 intersection improvements at West Old Baltimore Road. This project included realigning the West Old Baltimore Road intersection, widening and installing drainage improvements, a sidewalk and ADA compatible ramps. The project also included shared-use path improvements, culvert replacement, signal construction and a new 24-inch water main.
SHA is also completing intersection safety improvements on MD 190 at Braeburn Parkway aimed at improving traffic operations and safety for pedestrians, including students walking to Walt Whitman High School, and motorists.
MDTA Executive Director Jim Ports noted that in May, the MDTA announced the opening of the first public-comment period as part of the toll rate range setting process for proposed HOT lanes for Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370. The MDTA held in-person and virtual public hearings in July, and the first public comment period for the proposed toll rate ranges ended in August. A second public comment period was held September 30 through October 28 to receive feedback on MDTA staff's recommended toll rate ranges.
As a result of comments received during the first comment period, the recommended toll rate ranges reflected a new base minimum per-mile toll rate of 17 cents per mile, which is lower than the 20 cents per mile proposed in May. The 17 cents per mile is consistent with the base off-peak minimum per-mile toll rate for the Inter-County Connector. On November 18, the MDTA Board will vote on the final staff recommended toll rate ranges. Members of the public can sign up to speak in person at that meeting before the Board Members vote. Information on signing up can be found at mdta.maryland.gov.
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 the 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, 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.
Finally, Executive Director 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. The extension is expected to open to traffic by 2024 to MD 152 (Mountain Road), with the full extension to north of MD 24 open by 2027.
MTA Administrator Holly Arnold discussed the agency's investments and priorities throughout the state, including keeping the transit system in a state of good repair. One example of these key state-of-good-repair investments includes $54 million to overhaul 63 MARC III passenger coaches.
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.
MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Montgomery County by providing $36 million in operating and capital grants to support the local transit operation, Ride On. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery County will receive $93 million in federal relief funds to support transit operations and/or capital needs for the county.
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. These commitments build upon the strong foundation and progress MTA has established to improve the transit experience and system reliability for our riders, including:
- recognition as the safest transit system in the U.S. for the last seven years,
- implementation of CharmPass mobile ticketing,
- improving bus reliability with dedicated bus lanes, and
- expansion of real-time information to MARC Train and Commuter Bus.
MVA Administrator 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 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.
Administrator Nizer also discussed the Hogan Administration's recent announcement of more than $247,000 for organizations and law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County to address highway safety.
MAA Executive Director Ricky Smith 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 Fiscal 2022 for regional airports across Maryland. Davis Airport in Laytonsville will receive $261,000 in state aviation grant assistance for site preparation and obstruction removal to support an upcoming runway extension.