(Snow Hill, Md) - Worcester County officials met with Maryland Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports Tuesday, October 10, 2017, met to discuss the Draft FY 2018-2023 Consolidated Transportation Program, which details the Maryland Department of Transportation's (MDOT) draft 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 $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."
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 Worcester County's local priorities, including $5.5 million in Highway User Revenues and grant dollars, which includes the additional $888,000 grant recently awarded by the Governor. He also discussed highway safety grants recently announced by the Governor and awarded through MDOT MVA, including $27,027 to the Ocean City Police Department, $2,464 to the Worcester County Health Department, $2,000 to the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, and $1,750 to the Ocean Pines Police Department.
MDOT MTA is providing Shore Transit with $4.24 million in operating and capital grants to support the local transit operation in conjunction with Wicomico and Somerset counties. In addition, MDOT MTA continues to support the Ocean City transit system. This summer, MDOT MTA donated to the town five large transit vehicles during the peak tourist season; and, in FY18, the town will receive $7.2 million in operating and capital funding for its transit system.
Deputy Secretary Ports also provided an update on important major projects and system preservation projects in Worcester County, including MDOT SHA's work on the 4.6-mile, $52 million widening of US 113 (Phase III) between Massey Branch and Five Mile Branch Road. That project is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year. Also, the final phase of widening US 113 for more than four miles between Five Mile Branch Road and Public Landing Road will begin this fall. The $82 million project is expected to wrap up by fall 2019. MDOT SHA also is progressing with $29.8 million in resurfacing projects throughout Worcester County.
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 encouraged Worcester County officials to create a Strategic Highway Safety Plan or adopt Maryland's, 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.