On October 24, 2017, Maryland Department of Transportation MDOT) came to Calvert and met with the Calvert Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). Transportation Secretary Peter Rahn and his staff detailed the 2018-2023 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), which is the MDOT’s draft six year capital budget. It is the update of Governor Hogan’s $14.7 billion investment in transit, highways, Motor Vehicle Administration facilities, the Port of Baltimore and BWI Airport. He also discussed the $2.6 billion investment in toll roads and bridges. Senator Steve Waugh, and Delegates Mark Fisher and Jerry Clark were in attendance
Secretary Rahn 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, Secretary Rahn announced funding for Calvert County’s local priorities, including: $5.1 million in Highway User Revenues and grant dollars, which includes the additional $550,000 grant recently awarded by the Governor. He also discussed highway safety grants recently announced by Governor Hogan and administered through MDOT MVA, including $37,500 to the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and $5,100 to the Calvert County Alliance Against Substance Abuse. MDOT MTA makes a significant investment in Calvert County by providing $922,747 in operating and capital grants to support the local transit system. This funding includes replacement and enhancement of buses, ongoing preventative maintenance and supports the Rideshare program.
Secretary Rahn 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 Calvert County companies count on the port to conduct business here in Maryland, including Dominion Cove Point, Play House Gallery, and Yesteryear Furnishings.
On the highway side, Secretary Rahn 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.
Secretary Rahn also provided an update on important major projects and system preservation projects in Calvert County, where MDOT SHA is continuing work to replace the structurally deficient MD 261 Bridge over Fishing Creek. The $28 million project should be complete early spring 2019. Earlier this year, MDOT SHA completed a $4 million project on MD 231 and Church Street through Prince Frederick, including the addition of new sidewalk and the realignment of MD 231 at MD 765A to improve safety and reduce flooding. Next spring, MDOT SHA will start work on a $42 million widening project on MD 2/4 between Fox Run Boulevard and South Commerce Lane in Prince Frederick, including access to the county-sponsored Armory Square development. The project is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020.
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. MDOT anticipates advertising a design-build contract for the new Nice Bridge in 2018, starting construction in 2020, and opening a new, wider, and safer bridge in 2023.
Secretary Rahn also applauded Calvert County officials for crafting a Strategic Highway Safety Plan in order to save lives. The 522 roadway fatalities Maryland experienced in 2016 is unacceptable, and a highway safety plan would help target the most common causes of roadway fatalities in Maryland: impaired driving; speeding; not wearing seat belts; distracted driving; and not using crosswalks.
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.
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon