Program Open Space

Pat Esher, city planner for Cambridge, and Sen. Addie Eckardt review the master plan vision for Cannery Park, a former brownfield near a stream tributary and rail trail targeted for future park development.

CAMBRIDGE — Maryland Deputy Transportation Secretary Sean Powell met with Dorchester County officials Nov. 2 to discuss the Draft FY 2022 – FY 2027 Consolidated Transportation Program, which details the Maryland Department of Transportation’s six-year capital budget. The 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 $16.4 billion investment over the next six years in transit, highways, motor vehicle services, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Officials also discussed the Maryland Transportation Authority’s $2.8 billion in additional investments in Maryland’s toll roads and bridges.

“As promised, we crafted this budget to invest in preserving our aging infrastructure, delivering projects to support Maryland’s economic recovery and creating a shelf of projects for the next generation,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater. “This approach to infrastructure investment allows us to maintain a state of good repair and be ready to quickly move projects into construction with any new federal transportation funding.”

The Draft CTP outlines investments in each of MDOT’s transportation business units funded by the Transportation Trust Fund, including: Maryland Aviation Administration, Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Transit Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, State Highway Administration and The Secretary’s Office. The FY 2022 operating budget totals $2.24 billion.

This $16.4 billion Draft FY 2022 – FY 2027 capital budget focuses on system preservation, major projects, planning and engineering. More than half of the budget — $8.2 billion — will go toward preserving aging infrastructure.

MTA is facing $2 billion in state of good repair needs on its transit network. MDOT as a whole is facing a $7 billion state of good repair backlog, including needs on highways and bridges, and also at port, airport and motor vehicle facilities.

SHA Administrator Tim Smith discussed the importance of maintaining the state’s highways and bridges. As SHA works on completing projects throughout the state, its focus remains on asset management, accessibility and mobility.

He emphasized the need to provide safe access to all users, including people who travel by foot, bicycle and scooter.

SHA has projects underway across the state, including work in Dorchester County. On the US 50 Nanticoke River Bridge, rehabilitation work is underway, with completion anticipated this month.

Along Dorchester Avenue from Cedar Street to MD 16, the Cannery Park Rails to Trails project is under construction. Cambridge was awarded $221,000 in Transportation Alternatives Program funding, administered by SHA, to construct a shared-use path along former Dorchester-Delaware Railroad tracks. The segment between Cedar Street and MD 343 is anticipated to be completed this fall.

The safe Routes to School Project along Bayly Road from Mace’s Lane to Governor’s Avenue also is underway. Cambridge was awarded another TAP grant of $200,000 to construct a 5-foot sidewalk and install curb. Project design is 90% complete, and construction is expected to advertise this fall.

In December 2020, SHA completed the $2.6 million MD 16 reconstruction from MD 335 to Brannock Neck Road, Church Creek, which include placing drainage structures under Church Creek Road.

Jay Meredith, SHA District Engineer for Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties, talked about full signalization at Bucktown and a full signal at Dorchester Avenue. A roundabout at Dorchester and Crusader remains “in the works but not funded.”

Dorchester County Council members mentioned other local priorities, including the Dockins intersection, Waddells Corner, Worlds End Turn and Andrews Road.

MDTA Capital Planning Director Melissa Williams discussed the Bay Bridge’s automated lane closure system, a project that will allow for more efficient opening and closing of lanes for two-way traffic operations on the bridge spans. In fall 2022, the automated lane closure system is expected to be in place in both directions of US 50.

In February, the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the ongoing Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study was made available for public review and comment at baycrossingstudy.com. The MDTA held in-person and virtual public hearings in April, and the comment period ended in May. The MDTA expects to identify a Selected Corridor Alternative and publish a combined Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision this winter.MTA Local Transit Support Director Travis Johnston discussed the agency’s investments and priorities throughout the state, including keeping the transit system in a state of good repair.

MTA makes a significant investment in transit in Dorchester County by providing nearly $900,000 in FY22 operating and capital grants to support Delmarva Community Transit. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dorchester County, will receive $1.8 million in Federal CARES Act funds to support transit operations and/or capital needs of Delmarva Community Transit.

MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer reminded those in attendance that MVA remains under an appointment only operation, allowing the administration to efficiently serve more customers. Most branches have returned to pre-pandemic levels or are exceeding monthly transactions from previous years.

Among other recent changes, customers can now renew a license up to 12 months in advance. In addition, MVA extended the new photo requirement from every eight years to every 16 years. For Commercial Driver’s License customers, expiration dates on all CDL products will be changing from five years to eight years, the same as the non-commercial license.

She also discussed the Hogan Administration’s recent announcement of more than $12,000 for the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office to address highway safety.

MPA Harbor Development Director Kristen Fidler said the Port of Baltimore’s state-owned, public marine terminals have bounced back strong since the early months of COVID-19, when the entire international maritime industry was negatively affected. All the Port’s key cargo commodities (cars, containers, farm and construction machinery, paper and general cargo) are up significantly since then.

She noted the Port of Baltimore has approximately $250 million in state of good repair needs, not including the $100 million needed annually to maintain 135 miles of navigable shipping channels to ensure they can accommodate large ships. MPA also is expanding its Cox Creek dredged material containment site to hold additional dredged sediment from channels leading to the Port of Baltimore.

Dredging has been completed on a second, 50-foot-deep berth at the Port’s Seagirt Marine Terminal. A deeper berth will allow the Port to accommodate two ultra-large ships simultaneously. Four supersized, Neo-Panamax cranes arrived Sept. 9, and the berth is expected to be operational later this year.

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