10/01/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/01/2019 19:08
News You Can Use
For Immediate Release:
October 1, 2019
MDOT Public Affairs
Erin Henson, 410-865-1025
MDOT Officials Meet With Kent County as Part of
Annual Statewide Tour to Discuss Transportation Priorities
Transportation Officials Announce Key Project Updates
(Chestertown, MD) - Deputy Transportation Secretary R. Earl Lewis Jr. today met with Kent County officials to discuss the Draft FY 2020-2025 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 $15.3 billion investment over the next six years in transit, highways, Motor Vehicle Administration facilities, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall). Officials also discussed the Maryland Transportation Authority's $3.1 billion in additional investments for Maryland's toll roads and bridges.
'We have delivered a record program in record time and will continue improving our services to Marylanders,' said MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn.
In 2015, the Hogan Administration outlined a program of historic investment in infrastructure. Over the last four years, MDOT has completed 1,069 projects totaling nearly $5.9 billion.
Deputy Secretary Lewis outlined key updates on transportation investments in Kent County and across Maryland. Statewide, there are 718 airport, highway, transit, port, bicycle, and Motor Vehicle Administration construction projects underway, with a value of $7.2 billion.
In addition to these projects, the deputy secretary announced an increase in funding through Highway User Revenues, made possible by bipartisan legislation signed by Governor Larry Hogan last year. Kent County will receive more than $900,000 in Highway User Revenues this year, an increase of $101,000 over last year's allocation.
MDOT team members representing the agency's business units were: Deputy Transportation Secretary Lewis; Administrator Christine Nizer from the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA); Local Transit Support Director Travis Johnston from the MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA); Administrator Greg Slater from the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); Regional Aviation Assistance Director Ashish Solanki from the MDOT Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA); and Executive Director Jim Ports from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).
The $27 million Bay Bridge rehabilitation project was one of the main topics of discussion. The project involves replacing the deck surface of the westbound span right lane, which is closed 24/7 from October to April, with additional continuous closures Monday through Friday in May, when traffic volumes are at their lowest. Work also includes making deck repairs, sealing the bridge deck and replacing existing lane signal gantries and steel rail posts.
MDTA is taking a number of steps to minimize traffic backups during the project, including the implementation of cashless tolling at the Bay Bridge from noon to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays until further notice. All tolls will be collected electronically, with no cash accepted. Drivers who usually pay with cash will move through the plaza without stopping and will be mailed a statement to pay their toll at the cash rate.
MDTA officials will closely monitor traffic backups. On Thursdays and Fridays, under severe backups and weather permitting, MDTA will implement two-way operations on the westbound span so traffic can move in both directions at reduced speeds, providing three lanes eastbound and one westbound. During two-way operations, speed will be restricted to 25 to 35 mph. MDTA Police will travel the westbound span for enforcement and to help slow vehicles down. The public can help by staying alert, keeping speeds down and maintaining a safe distance.
Even under normal operations, commercial trucks are not permitted to travel eastbound on the westbound span during two-way operations. During this two-way operation, due to narrow lanes, commercial trucks will not be allowed to cross westbound either. As we do with wind restrictions, we will reach out to truck and commercial vehicle operators with our normal notification system.
Officials also discussed the ongoing Tier 1 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study of potential locations and funding options for a third Chesapeake Bay crossing. Three corridor alternatives and a 'no-build' option have been identified for review. Kent County hosted a public meeting about the study on September 24.
Governor Hogan's latest proposed toll rate reductions could save Marylanders $28 million over the next five years. The proposal to reduce tolls for a third time under the Hogan administration is scheduled for a vote by the MDTA Board on Nov. 21.
And the MDTA is upgrading toll-collection software and modernizing customer service. All-electronic tolling is set to begin in Oct. 16 at the Thomas J. Hatem Bridge in northeastern Maryland. and Oct. 30 at the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.
On the transit side, MDOT MTA is making a significant investment in Kent County, with $1 million in operating and capital grants to support the local transit operation in conjunction with Caroline and Talbot counties. These funds will provide for the replacement of one small bus, a mini-van and ongoing maintenance. Additionally, $478,000 in funding is being provided to nonprofits that serve the transportation needs of seniors and people with disabilities in the county.
Transportation officials also provided updates on major highway and system preservation projects.
Last spring, MDOT SHA completed a $3.6 million project to replace the northbound US 301 bridge deck over MD 290. Extensive pier repair work was included in this project.
Construction began over the summer on a $5.2 million project to improve drainage and pedestrian access/safety on MD 313 and MD 291 in Millington. Work includes new drainage infrastructure and new ADA-compliant sidewalks and ramps. Completion is expected in summer 2020.
Under MDOT SHA's areawide resurfacing contract, the agency will pave MD 20 from just west of MD 445 to the Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Department. This is a short but critical segment that includes one of the main intersections in Rock Hall and sees more than 4,000 vehicles a day on average, with higher volumes during the summer boating and tourist season.
Deputy Secretary Lewis also highlighted the latest records at the Port of Baltimore, including its handling of 11 million tons of general cargo in fiscal 2019. The port remains No. 1 in the nation for autos and roll on/roll off machinery. The port is ninth among U.S. ports for dollar value of cargo with $59.7 billion last year, and 11th for total foreign cargo tonnage with 43 million tons.
BWI Marshall is experiencing steadily growing passenger traffic with new airlines and service to new domestic and international markets. In 2018, BWI Marshall set a new all-time annual record for passenger traffic by exceeding 27.1 million passengers.
Deputy Secretary Lewis said he was pleased to continue working with Kent County officials on a highway safety plan to address personal injuries crashes in Maryland. The state experienced 513 roadway fatalities in 2018.
Maryland's Strategic Highway Safety Plan targets the most common causes of roadway fatalities in Maryland: impaired driving; speeding; not wearing seat belts; distracted driving; and not using crosswalks. Deputy Secretary Lewis encouraged residents and officials in attendance to sign MDOT's Traffic Safety Pledge, found at: http://www.mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/SafetyPledge.html.
The meeting in Chestertown was the seventh stop on the annual CTP tour. Meetings are being held at locations in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City. To view the full CTP tour schedule, visit: https://bit.ly/2mhwlHn. To view the Draft CTP, visit: www.ctp.maryland.gov.
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.
Follow MDOT on Twitter at@MDOTNews and stay updated on the CTP Tour with #MDOTCTPtour. Find the latest news athttp://www.mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/News/News.html and view MDOT photos onFlickr.