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Maryland DOT Officials Hold Washington County Meeting

October 5th, 2017 by WCBC Radio

Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports today met with Washington County officials to discuss the Draft FY 2018-2023 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 $14.7 billion investment over the next six years in transit, highways, Motor Vehicle Administration facilities, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall). Officials also discussed the Maryland Transportation Authority’s $2.6 billion additional investments in Maryland’s toll roads and bridges.

“The annual CTP Tour lets us engage with our customers about their transportation priorities,” said Deputy Secretary Ports. “We actively dialogue with Marylanders throughout the year, and this lets us talk face-to-face with them about transportation issues that are important to us all.”

MDOT team members representing the agency’s business units were: Deputy Secretary Ports and State Legislative Officer Tom Curtin from The Secretary’s Office; Regional Aviation Assistance Director Ashish Solanki from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA); Administrator Greg Slater and District Engineer Anthony Crawford from the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); Administrator Chrissy Nizer from the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA); and Local Transit Support Deputy Director Jeannie Fazio from the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA).

Speaking on behalf of Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn, Deputy Secretary Ports outlined key updates on the transportation investments. Statewide, there are 846 airport, highway, transit, port, bicycle, and motor vehicle construction projects underway with a value of $9 billion.

In addition to these projects, Deputy Secretary Ports announced funding for Washington County’s local priorities, including: $10.1 million in Highway User Revenues and grant dollars, which includes the additional $1.7 million grant recently awarded by the Governor. He also discussed a $37,500 award to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and $17,500 for the Hagerstown Police Department in highway safety grants funded through MDOT MVA. Also, MDOT MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Washington County through inter-city bus service, commuter bus service and by providing $2.8 million in operating and capital grants to support the local community. Additionally, $550,000 is given to nonprofit organizations that provide important transportation services to seniors and people with disabilities in the county.

Deputy Secretary Ports also touted the latest records at the Port of Baltimore, including the port handling 10.1 million tons of general cargo – from autos and heavy machinery to containers – in FY 2017. The port remains number one in the nation for autos and roll on/roll off machinery, and just one year after welcoming the first mega ship from the newly expanded Panama Canal, port container business is up 10 percent. He also highlighted key Washington County companies that count on the port to conduct business here in Maryland, including: Volvo/Mack Trucks, Holcim Cement and MacCaferri Incorporated.

At BWI Marshall, he highlighted steadily growing passenger traffic with new airlines and service to new domestic and international markets. In FY 2017, BWI Marshall set a new all-time annual record for passenger traffic with nearly 25.7 million passengers, and it has seen strong growth continue with 24-straight monthly passenger records through June.

On the highway side, Deputy Secretary Ports said that under Governor Hogan’s leadership, Maryland is making record investments in highways and bridges. Of the 69 structurally deficient bridges the Hogan Administration identified in June 2015, 41 have been rehabilitated or replaced and are no longer structurally deficient. The remaining 28 are in various stages of design and actively moving toward construction or repair.

MDOT SHA recently completed three bridge projects: MD 63 over James Run opened in August (a week ahead of schedule) and the I-70 Bridge project over US 522 also is complete. The eastbound I-70 bridge on the ramp to I-68 opened this summer. Another major bridge project, westbound I-70 over I-81, is underway and will be done by Thanksgiving. MDOT SHA has several bridge projects under design, including: MD 68 over Beaver Creek, MD 56 over I-70, eastbound I-70 over MD 65, and MD 68 over Western Branch.

Deputy Secretary Ports also provided an update on other important major projects and system preservation projects in Washington County, including a $102.6 million project launched last fall to upgrade and widen I-81 from US 11 in West Virginia to north of MD 63/MD 68. The project, which includes widening and upgrading the bridge over the Potomac River, is expected to be completed in 2020. MDOT SHA also is constructing drainage improvements along I-70 (Eisenhower Memorial Highway) from the Pennsylvania State line to the Frederick County line. This $4.7 million project is anticipated to be complete later this month.

At MDTA, Governor Hogan’s toll rate reductions have saved Marylanders $122 million since 2015. Toll rate reductions will continue to save Maryland citizens and businesses approximately $54 million annually. With lower tolls, more people are using MDTA’s toll facilities, driving up revenues higher than expected, allowing us to replace the Nice Bridge and study a new Bay Bridge crossing. A Tier 1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study of location and funding options for a third Chesapeake Bay crossing began in January 2017 and will take up to 48 months to complete.

Deputy Secretary Ports also applauded Washington County officials for creating their own Strategic Highway Safety Plan and said the Maryland Highway Safety Office looks forward to working with the county on reaching zero deaths on our roadways. The 522 roadway fatalities Maryland experienced in 2016 is unacceptable, and a highway safety plan will help target the most common causes of roadway fatalities in Maryland: impaired driving; speeding; not wearing seat belts; distracted driving; and not using crosswalks.

Officials and residents met today at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown. The tour launched September 25 in Queen Anne’s County and will conclude November 13 in Harford County. Meetings are planned at various locations in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. For a complete list of dates, times, locations and directions, click here: ow.ly/lEDN30e8SF3. To view the draft CTP, visit:  mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/Planning/CTP.

Each fall, MDOT presents its draft six-year capital program to every county and Baltimore City for review and comment. Following input from the 24 local jurisdictions, MDOT prepares a final budget to present to the General Assembly in January.

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