Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Sept. 10 that additional transportation projects worth $30 million will be funded by President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Funding for these additional projects is available due to savings generated by the intense competition for Maryland’s ARRA highway and transit contracts advertised earlier this year.
“Without a doubt, President Obama’s recovery program is generating the desired effect here in Maryland,” said O’Malley. “Across our state, work is under way rehabilitating our roads, bridges and transit systems. Healthy competition for those state contracts has produced savings that will allow us to fund eleven more projects. This additional work will support more jobs and help more Maryland families.”
Of the $30 million in ARRA funds remaining, more than $17 million will be invested to rehabilitate the Mondawmin Transit Center in Baltimore, the Maryland Transit Administration’s aging bus maintenance facilities and electrical systems critical to the operation of the Baltimore Light Rail system. Another $13 million will fund highway safety, resurfacing, drainage and bridge improvements around the state. The projects being added are consistent with the direction of United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) that contract savings be directed to the state’s economically disadvantaged areas, as defined by the Federal Highway Administration. USDOT also encouraged states to direct contract savings toward transit.
In addition to maximizing ARRA funding already allocated/received, Maryland is applying for more than $200 million in federal transportation recovery grants. The state will submit five projects that are eligible to compete for funding under the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program. The projects include:
• MARC Capacity and Service Reliability Improvements — $45 million: The project will include track improvements and electronic signal upgrades that will allow MARC trains and CSX freight trains to coexist and operate more efficiently on the CSX owned Camden and Brunswick lines. This initiative is a joint effort between the Maryland Transit Administration and CSX and comprises a cost effective initial stage of the MARC Growth and Investment Plan.
• Central Maryland Transit Maintenance Facility — $25 million: This new maintenance facility would centralize and increase the efficiency of public transit operations in Howard County, Anne Arundel County, and the City of Laurel by providing a publicly-owned maintenance facility instead of relying on facilities provided by contractors. Transit services in this region are expected to increase in order to serve growing numbers of employees at both Fort Meade and the National Security Agency due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative.
• Masonville Vessel Berth 3 — $20 million: This funding would be used by the Maryland Port Administration to replace a World War II vintage pier at the Port of Baltimore’s Masonville auto terminal. The Port of Baltimore is currently ranked number two in the nation for exporting U.S.-made automobiles. Construction of this new pier will provide long-term economic benefits to the region and nation, ensuring uninterrupted supply lines between U.S. automobile manufacturers and purchasers worldwide.
• BRAC Transportation Improvements in Maryland — $58 million: This funding would address congestion due to anticipated increases in traffic volumes and transit ridership as a result of BRAC-related growth at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, and the National Military Medical Center in Montgomery County. Funds would allow the State to construct priority intersection improvements identified by MDOT, in coordination with the impacted localities and military installations, to improve safety, operations and access within the September 2011 BRAC timeframe.
• MD 5 Branch Ave Metro Access Phase 2/Transit-Oriented Development Project — $56 million: This funding would improve access to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Branch Ave Metrorail Station. The project will include construction of a new access road to the station from Branch Avenue as well as improvements to the existing road network.
“These five candidates were selected after an extensive project solicitation and review process,” said Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley. “Our goal was to identify needed transportation projects that will be competitive in the federal process as a result of their ability to support jobs and promote economic recovery.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation will actively support another five projects worth nearly $120 million that will be submitted for TIGER grants by local jurisdictions and private sector partners.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed by Congress in March of this year. Within 24 hours of President Obama signing the legislation, O’Malley announced the first wave of Maryland transportation projects to be funded under the ARRA. The state’s focus has been to dedicate these recovery funds to the rehabilitation of Maryland’s existing roads, bridges and transit infrastructure. Maryland was the first state in the nation to receive approval from the Federal Highway Administration to proceed with a project to be funded under the ARRA. That project, the rehabilitation and resurfacing of a portion of New Hampshire Avenue (MD 650) in Montgomery County is to be completed this fall. To date, a total of 109 ARRA funded highway contracts have been advertised valued at $323 million. A total of 59 of those contracts are actually under way, representing an investment of $189 million. ARRA funded transit projects awarded to date represent an investment of $99 million.
For more information, visit www.marylandtransportation.com.