Local Transportation Priorities Remain Unchanged (Frederick News-Post)

Originally published September 23, 2011
By Stephanie Mlot
News-Post Staff

Despite a lack of funding for state transportation projects, Maryland’s transportation secretary is staying positive about future possibilities for change. During the annual transportation priorities tour, state Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley listened to input from city, county and state officials about the draft fiscal 2012-2017 Consolidated Transportation Program.

Last year’s update varied little from the 2010 CTP report, and the lack of additional funding this year has left little room for change in the list of priorities.

Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young listed the top transportation projects as voted on by the board last week, including the U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard Interchange construction project, I-70 Phase 4 design project and the I-70 interchange at Meadow Road planning project.

The U.S. 15/Monocacy Boulevard project was in the design phase during last year’s priorities tour; this year, SHA reported that engineering is under way.

State Highway Administration District Engineer Dave Coyne said there were no surprises during Thursday’s meeting.

“Everybody wants their highway user revenue back,” he said of the topic brought up by city aldermen, county commissioners and state officials during the meeting.

Even without the added funding, partnerships between the state, county and city have allowed local projects such as the Motter Avenue bridge and Opossumtown Pike improvements to move forward.

Swaim-Staley offered more good news Thursday night.

“Just as last year, we have not had to cut any projects out of the program,” she said during the meeting.

For the past several years, the state has not been able to address major expansion projects. The secretary said that to be able to get back to long-term planning and construction, the state needs to be in a stable funding situation. Swaim-Staley intends to continue working with the federal government to get to that point, she said.

Historically, the state is able to chip away at priorities each year, adding new ones to the CTP and completing years’ worth of projects.

For the past few years, that has not been the case, Swaim-Staley said after the meeting. But Frederick’s priorities have stayed consistent, which makes it easier for the state to move forward.

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