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OPINION: Mapping Out Baltimore County's Transportation Priorities

Maryland's Department of Transportation is seeking local input on its six-year capital budget for transportation projects.

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.

Honeygo Hal October 22, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Thanks to Councilman Marks for promoting walkability. It is not only good exercise, but good for the environment, and more of a necessity for some coming out of the recession. I hope one of those projects is the "completion" of the intersection of Honeygo Blvd. and Joppa Rd. to the west. Joppa Rd. has a significant amount of foot traffic, the cars don't always follow the speed limit, and there is no shoulder to walk on - just grass and mud puddles.
PerryHallParent October 22, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I had to nod along with you while reading this comment. I loved that my child's school sent home a flyer about "Walk to School Day". Yeah, I can see hundreds of children walking along that stretch of Joppa! I feel for people that I see trying to walk there now. They are taking their lives into their hands with the way people drive over the line and I've seen them in the grass too. That part of the road system is NOT even close to being equipped to handle the traffic that is generated through there.
Parkvillehoney October 22, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I was so impressed on a recent trip to Virginia. In Alexandria, there was so many walking and biking paths. It was great to see many people walking and biking in a safe manner. It was also great to see the paths in a slight curve instead of a straight line. If there is public land on Honeygo Blvd, this would be a great place to put this type of path. It would be great to see families biking or walking to the library and playground.
gabe October 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
same on cowenton. We need more walking paths as well on Rt. 7. There are parks on cowenton but very little sidewalks.
Honeygo Hal October 23, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Honeygo Blvd. is pretty well covered by sidewalks. David Marks took care of the last big chunk a year or so ago. The piece from Forge Rd. to Belair is not done, but there is no development there yet. There are some winding sidewalks on Rt.7 between 95 and Campbell Blvd - unfortunately there is very little foot traffic there.

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