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(Cumberland, MD) November 4, 2022 – Allegany County officials met with Transportation Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. and other Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) leaders yesterday to discuss key projects and future partnerships within the county. Secretary Ports outlined the Draft FY 2023-2028 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) for the State of Maryland, which is nearly $2.2 billion more than the Final FY 2022-2027 CTP, and utilizes $1.3 billion in additional Federal formula funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed by Congress last fall.
Secretary Ports said the additional IIJA funding will aid long-term state of good repair investments and fulfill Governor Hogan's commitment to advance at least one new priority project in every county and Baltimore City. For Allegany County, the CTP includes funding toward the I-68 Cumberland Viaduct Replacement project, which will upgrade access points to and from central Cumberland by replacing the bridge over central Cumberland and Wills Creek.
Representatives for Allegany County included County Administrator Jason Bennett, Director of Public Works Adam Patterson, County Engineer Dan DeWitt, and Engineer Whitney Patterson. Also in attendance was City of Cumberland Director of Engineering & Utilities, Robert Smith.
Whitney Patterson outlined progress made on the US 220 corridor in Bowling Green to address flooding, noting that phase one of four has wrapped up and plans are in line through phase three at this point in time. She also discussed restoration of the Borden Tunnel on the GAP trail and expressed gratitude for awarded funds that would help to resurface some deteriorating areas within the tunnel. Dan DeWitt mentioned two bridge projects north of Cumberland (Mason Road over Evitts Creek and Old Mount Pleasant Road over Evitts Creek) that the county is hopeful will receive 100% funding through IIJA. Additionally, two other bridge projects were discussed: replacement of Watercliff Street over Hill Run in Lonaconing-area and replacement of New Row Road over Dutch Hollow Run in Mount Savage. DeWitt also updated progress on a pedestrian bridge near Bel Air Elementary School, citing that they are hopeful to find an ADA-compliant solution from a 3rd party provider that meets the requirements of the MDOT State Highway Administration (SHA) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program
City of Cumberland Engineer, Robert Smith, discussed three bridge projects within city limits. He indicated that the Fayette Street bridge, previously struck by a CSX train, was being funded at the Federal level but they would be reaching out to MDOT with the hopes of fast-tracking the project.
MDOT is also working with federal partners to outline criteria on additional funding that may be available to state and local jurisdictions through discretionary grants that are part of IIJA and other longstanding Federal grant programs. During roundtable discussion, MDOT officials commended the Allegany County Department of Public Works on fostering a good working relationship amongst the departments, and making excellent use of the resources and programs available to them.
Regarding highways, SHA Administrator Tim Smith emphasized SHA's continued collaboration and partnership with the county. He said in August, SHA completed a $14 million bridge deck replacement and rehabilitation of the MD 51 (Industrial Boulevard) bridge over MD 61 (Canal Parkway) and CSX in Cumberland. In September, SHA completed a $12 million bridge deck replacement on MD 51 (Old Town Road) bridge over C&O Canal. The bridge was built in 1932.
Looking ahead, work to replace the MD 36 (Mount Savage Road) Bridge over North Branch will begin next spring. SHA is also funding improvements to US 220, MD 53 and Warrior Drive in Cresaptown.
MTA Local Transit Support Director Travis Johnston discussed the agency's investments and priorities throughout the state, including local investment in transit in Allegany County by providing nearly $1.2 million in operating and capital grants to support local transit operations.
MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer told officials that MVA continues to operate by appointment only at its branches, and serves more than 75% of branch customers within 15 minutes of their appointment. Administrator Nizer discussed the Hogan Administration's recent announcement of nearly $9,000 for Allegany County agencies to address highway safety. She also provided an update on MVA's work to help Marylanders meet the federal REAL ID requirement by the May 3, 2023, deadline. Currently 88% of Marylanders are REAL ID compliant.
MAA Planning and Engineering Chief Paul Shank said the MAA is continuing to support the 35 public-use airports that serve communities across the state, and will administer $3.5 million in State grants during Fiscal Year 2023 for regional airports, including $212,000 in funding to support runway rehabilitation, terminal HVAC equipment, and roof repairs for Greater Cumberland Regional Airport.
Secretary Ports noted that Maryland's Port of Baltimore is advancing the Howard Street Tunnel expansion, a project that will grow jobs and spark growth in the logistics and supply train industry across the state – including Western Maryland. The project is a partnership between state, local and federal agencies, as well as CSX. Expansion of the tunnel in Baltimore will make it possible for double-stacked rail cars to travel from the port. When completed, it will provide double-stack capacity from Maine to Florida and allow the port to send double-stacked containers by rail into the Ohio Valley and onto Chicago. The project will increase port business by about 160,000 additional containers per year, and generate about 7,300 new jobs, including good-paying trucking, warehouse and distribution center jobs across Maryland.
MDOT officials also sought to remind Allegany County residents of the upcoming deadline to pay any outstanding Video Toll bills from Maryland toll bridges and roads. There are 26 more days remaining in MDTA's civil penalty waiver grace period, which started in February and continues through 11:59 p.m. November 30, 2022.