I attended a briefing last week on Maryland's Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP) for the years 2013-2018. This document serves as the state’s six-year capital budget for transportation projects. On an annual basis, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) updates the CTP. In doing so, the agency identifies major and minor projects to be completed by both MDOT and its associated modal agencies, which include the Maryland Aviation Administration, the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland Port Administration, and the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The entire six-year capital program cycle includes just over $9.7 billion in transportation maintenance and enhancement projects. Annual funding amounts range from a high of $2 billion for 2013 to a low of $1.3 billion in 2018. An additional $78.4 million in projects have been added to the CTP as part of this year's update of the plan. A number of these additions relate to major bridge replacements on interstates and other highways throughout the state.
Here in Baltimore County, several major projects are worth noting.
- Replacement of four bridge over/underpasses associated with I-695 located at Charles Street, Liberty Road, Frederick Road, and Wilkens Avenue.
- Replacement of the bridge deck for U.S. Route 40 over the Patapsco River.
- Continued work on the expansion of I-95 to include two additional lanes of traffic in each direction to be used as Express Toll Lanes. Having previously served as Chief of Staff for the Maryland Transportation Authority, this item is of particular interest to me.
After drafting the CTP, MDOT solicits feedback from local elected officials from each of Maryland's counties. These individuals are encouraged to outline their jurisdiction’s top transportation priorities for state funding. As part of this process, planners from MDOT visit each county to personally hear from all interested parties with regard to the draft CTP.
Baltimore County's October 4, 2012 CTP priority letter focused on two specific projects that local officials believe will lead to "strong economic development potential and will generate additional resources for the County and the State." Specifically, the county urged that funding be provided for improvements to the MARC station located at Martin State Airport, in order to facilitate future mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Also, Baltimore County requested that funding be allocated to support upgrades to Reisterstown Road and its associated intersections.
While at last week's CTP tour meeting, I also heard about other noteworthy projects that county residents felt were equally in need of future funding. For instance, I heard from a number of individuals, including County Councilman David Marks, about the need for improvements to sidewalks and trails (like those proposed for Indian Rock Park) in order to promote walkability.
Transportation and mobility are important factors for the health of any community. A lack of mobility can impair future economic growth, and make an area less attractive for potential homebuyers. Excessive traffic congestion also leads to greater air pollution, thus harming our natural environment. Clearly, we need to make sure that limited public funds support our transportation infrastructure through promotion of the right projects. Hopefully, Maryland's CTP includes the right blend of large and small improvements to keep Maryland moving.