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Maryland transportation department to invest in unclogging highways, updating MARC stations in Anne

By DANA MUNRO CAPITAL GAZETTE | FEB 04, 2022 AT 5:00 AM


The Maryland Department of Transportation will be investing in Anne Arundel County projects aimed at easing highway congestion, adding more sidewalks and bike paths, and renovating the Odenton and Laurel MARC train stations.


A report from MDOT detailing its six-year investment plan for every county — known as the Consolidated Transportation Program, or CTP — was released last month and included funding for projects on routes 2, 3 and 170 and updating the Laurel and Odenton MARC stations.


After years of congestion problems on routes 2 and 3, projects to widen the highways have finally made their way into the state’s investment plan, but they still have a long way to go.

Designs for adding a third lane on Ritchie Highway — a section of Route 2 in Arnold between U.S. Route 50 to Arnold Road — a sidewalk along northbound Route 2 from Chautaugua Road to Arnold Road and a sidewalk along Arnold Road from the B&A Trail to Route 2 received funding, with the county contributing $200,000 and the state contributing $800,000. However, the county and state contributions only cover 30% of the total $3.3 million design costs.


Plans for Route 3 northbound from St. Stephens Church Road to Route 175 and Route 3 southbound from Route 32 ramp to Waugh Chapel Road/Riedel Road in Crofton include adding a third lane in each direction. A shared-use path along Route 3 from Route 175 to Waugh Chapel Road/Riedel Road and sidewalk and crosswalk improvements at the routes 3 and 175 intersection are also planned. The county is putting in $160,000, while the state is adding $640,000. The $800,000 combined contributions also cover only 30% of the $2.7 million design costs.


It’s not a guarantee these projects will go on to receive construction funding, but Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is confident routes 2 and 3 will make the cut. “The disappointment always with transportation projects is how slow government works,” Pittman said. “But we’re well-positioned in Anne Arundel County to receive [the remaining design and construction] funding.”


Pittman said he attributes his confidence to good relationships his administration has cultivated with senior MDOT decision-makers and state representatives. He said he believes they know how necessary these projects are to help get people where they are going safely and efficiently.


Another local roadway project getting funding this year is improving safety and traffic issues along Route 170 from Norcross Lane to Wieker Road. The project also includes adding bicycle lanes and sidewalks. So far, the state has allocated $2.6 million for the project, most of which will go toward engineering. The county may contribute developers for construction if it reaches that stage, State Highway Administration spokesperson Sherry Christian wrote in an email.


“The project will help to reduce congestion and improve travel time in the morning and evening commutes by reducing the queues along MD 170,” Christian wrote. “The reduction in congestion also typically results in a reduction of congestion related crashes.”


Other notable projects include $2.6 million toward renovating the MARC Odenton station by replacing old infrastructure, including flooring, seating and accessible bathrooms, making the station more user-friendly for commuters with disabilities.


Another $3 million will go toward replacing the platform at the MARC Laurel station. The project includes inserting a new northbound platform, decking, stairs and ramps. Both MARC projects will be funded by MDOT’s Transportation Trust Fund, Maryland Transit Administration spokesperson Brittany Marshall wrote in an email.


Marshall said the projects were prioritized as they “align with MDOT MTA strategic priorities to modernize systems and improve reliability.”


MDOT also allocated $364.8 million toward reparations and replacements of trackwork, system updates and new vehicles for the Light RailLink system.


“These upgrades will ensure safe operations, reduce ongoing maintenance costs, increase vehicle reliability and availability, and increase passenger comfort and security,” Marshall wrote.


The state also plans to spend $264.3 million on replacing all diesel-fueled and partly diesel-fueled Maryland buses with emission-free ones beginning in 2023.


Federal infrastructure bill allocations will be factored into next year’s CTP, according to MDOT spokesperson Erin Henson, which could potentially add funding to Anne Arundel County projects or get some others off the county executive’s list and onto MDOT’s.


Pittman said he understands the process of renovating old infrastructure is long and arduous but is hopeful to see things starting to take shape at the state level.


“When I came in, there were so many broken promises that people had almost given up on getting any improvement,” Pittman said.


He said he believes the county’s investment in some of the projects led to investment on the state’s end.


“We made a decision in the first year that we were going to turn to the ‘carrot approach’ to get state highways to raise our projects on their priority list by investing some of our money,” he said.


He added that the county may have benefited from timing as well, as MDOT invested more conservatively in the years following the 2008 recession and has recently slowly begun spending more on renovation projects.


“I am optimistic that we are going to catch up on failure in the past to address the traffic and transportation infrastructure that we need for this county,” Pittman said.

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