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For Immediate Release:

MDOT OFFICIALS MET WITH BALTIMORE CITY AS PART OF ANNUAL STATEWIDE TOUR TO DISCUSS TRANSPORTATION PRIORITIES

Transportation Secretary Announced Bikes To Be Allowed on MARC Weekday Service

November 4, 2016

(Baltimore, MD) – Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn today met with Baltimore City officials to discuss the Draft FY 2017 – FY 2022 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 $14.4 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 $1.99 billion additional investments in Maryland’s toll roads and bridges.

“The annual CTP Tour is a great opportunity to connect with our customers and to discuss their transportation priorities,” said Secretary Rahn.  “We are committed to continuing an active dialogue with our customers throughout the year.”

MDOT Team members representing the agency’s six business units were:  Secretary Rahn and Regional Planner Tyson Byrne from The Secretary’s Office; Administrator Chrissy Nizer and Deputy Administrator Leslie Dews from the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA); and Administrator Paul Comfort, Planning and Programming Director Kevin Quinn, and Local Transit Support Director Beth Kreider from the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA); Executive Director Ricky D. Smith, Sr., from the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA); Executive Director Jim White from the Maryland Port Administration (MPA); Executive Director Milt Chaffee and Chief Administrative Officer Percy Dangerfield from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA); and Transportation Alternatives Program Manager Christy Bernal from the State Highway Administration (SHA).

Secretary Rahn outlined key updates on the transportation investments.  Statewide, there are more construction projects underway now than in Maryland’s history, with 1,073 projects totaling $7.9 billion across MDOT from investments in MVA, transit, highways and toll facilities to key projects at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and BWI Marshall.  In addition to these projects, Secretary Rahn announced funding for Baltimore City’s local priorities, including: $880.9 million in Highway User Revenues; $70,000 in FY 2017 highway safety grants for the Baltimore City Police Department; and $3 million in operating funding to support the Charm City Circulator.

Secretary Rahn also discussed the $5.2 million in grants announced this week for transportation alternatives and improvements to bike and pedestrian safety and connectivity across the state, including key projects in Baltimore City to:  design and construct bike boulevards along Covington Street and Melrose Avenue; design Arlington Avenue Greenway; design of a shared use trail for bikes and pedestrians; fund directional signs along Jones Falls Trail; and fund bridge improvements, track restoration and a new crossing gate for the B&O Railroad Museum.

Another key part of this grant funding will retrofit 30 Bi-Level MARC cars to accommodate standard sized bikes on weekday service for the first time ever on all three lines – Penn, Camden and Brunswick.  Currently, only folding bikes are allowed on weekday MARC with bike cars or standard-sized bikes on the Penn Line’s bike cars on the weekends.

In addition to the transit grants for Baltimore City, Secretary Rahn provided an update on BaltimoreLink, which last month marked the one-year anniversary of Governor Larry Hogan’s announcing the transformative transit plan to connect all Baltimore transit options into one true transit network.  BaltimoreLink will deliver an interconnected transit system by:  redesigning the entire local and express bus systems throughout the Baltimore region and adding 12 new high-frequency, color-coded bus routes that improve connections to jobs and to MARC, Metro Subway and Light Rail.

In addition to MTA’s more than $800 million annual operating budget, BaltimoreLink harnesses the value of $795 million key capital investments to upgrade the system with:  real-time location and arrival information, 172 new buses, new Metro Subway vehicles and signaling system, and mid-life overhaul of the entire Light Rail fleet and MARC bi-level railcars.  BaltimoreLink also adds key tools to truly integrate all the transit options into one interconnected system with:  a transfer hub network, dedicated bus lanes, transit signal prioritization, new bicycle amenities, access to car-sharing options and much more.

The Transportation Secretary highlighted key milestones with the first Express BusLink launched in June 2016 that also relieves some bus congestion in Baltimore City.  As promised, expanded and new Commuter Bus service has had launches in the summer and this fall with more to come in the spring.  In October, MTA launched the first-time ever Commuter Bus from Baltimore City to Aberdeen Proving Ground with a stop at White Marsh.

Also as part of BaltimoreLink, MTA has enhanced QuickBus 40 (QB 40) service between the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in Baltimore County and City Hall in Baltimore City.  In addition to increasing frequency and reliability on the QB 40 line, other amenities include the installation of new shelters, new colored destination signs on buses and a dedicated staff to keep the buses clean and well maintained.

In addition to more robust services, the first painted dedicated bus lanes were installed on Pratt and Lombard streets to allow buses swifter passage through congested traffic in downtown Baltimore. 

With the help of a federal TIGER grant, MTA will complete a $27 million revitalization along a key five-mile corridor of North Avenue that will include:  dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority, bike facilities, enhancements to Light Rail and Metro Subway stations, improvements at major bus stops and sidewalks, streetscaping, and roadway re-paving.  This project will help jumpstart economic growth for this key section of Baltimore City – connecting people to major economic and entertainment centers and getting people where they want and need to go faster and more efficiently.

A key aspect to the past year of BaltimoreLink activities has been the public dialogue designed to receive community feedback about the plan.  In gatherings with community groups, elected officials, public workshops, pop-up events and meetings with MTA bus operators, MTA received more than 2,000 comments and suggestions about the BaltimoreLink plan at over 200 meetings. 

Secretary Rahn said the high-frequency, color-coded CityLink routes and LocalLink routes will be launching in June 2017 with better connections to Light Rail, Metro Subway and MARC.  MTA will be bringing the routes out for public comment later this year.  At today’s meeting, he encouraged everyone to continue the dialogue.

“It’s great to see the roll out of this transformative transit plan,” said Secretary Rahn.  “BaltimoreLink will connect Marylanders to so many of life’s opportunities throughout the Baltimore Region.

Secretary Rahn also touted the latest records at the Port of Baltimore, including the Port being #1 in the nation for autos and roll on/roll off machinery and welcoming the first big container ship from Evergreen to come through the newly expanded Panama Canal.  He also named key Baltimore City companies that count on the Port to conduct business here in Maryland, including:  National Gypsum; Usalco; Bitumar USA; C. Steinweg; and Balterm.

At BWI Marshall, he highlighted steadily growing passenger traffic with new airlines and service to new domestic and international markets.  In 2015, BWI Marshall set a new all-time annual record for passenger traffic with nearly 24 million passengers, and it has seen strong growth continue with 14-straight monthly passenger records through August 2016.  The D/E Connector is a key capital project that is being delivered on a fast-track to meet the growing demand for international service.

Secretary Rahn also showed the group the new Maryland Proud license plate that was made available in September and can be ordered online for $20 at mva.maryland.gov.  He also described the new Maryland driver’s license as the most secure in the nation.  For the first time ever, the new driver’s license also honors Veterans with VETERAN displayed proudly on the front of the license.  From June 20 to October 29, 11,867 veterans chose to get the new MD Secure Driver’s License or ID with the Veteran designation on the front.

Officials and residents met at Baltimore City Hall.  The tour launched September 20 with stops in Worcester, Somerset and Wicomico counties and will conclude November 15 in Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties.  Meetings are planned at various locations in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City.  For a complete list of the CTP Tour Schedule with dates, times and locations visit:  mdot.maryland.gov/newMDOT/Planning/CTP/2016_CTP_Tour.  To view the draft CTP, visit here:  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.

Contact:
Erin Henson
MDOT Public Affairs
410-865-1025
ehenson@mdot.maryland.gov

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