Proposed Project To Widen Parts Of Rt. 15 To Get Design Funding

That’s Frederick City & the County’s top transportation priority.

Frederick, Md (KM) The proposed widening of Route 15 in Frederick County is getting some attention from Maryland Department of Transportation officials.  State Highway Administrator Tim Smith announced that $10.7-million has been programmed to complete the design of US 15 from Interstate 70 to Route 26.  He made that announcement Wednesday during a virtual meeting for local officials in Frederick County.  

The money will be placed in the state’s Consolidated Transportation Program for fiscal years 2022–2027 which details major transportation projects around Maryland.  The CTP totals $16.4-billion.

“We are pleased to see that the full design funding is included in the draft CTP for this project,” says County Council President MC Keegan-Ayer. “It is absolutely vital that this stretch be completed and open to traffic before the state P3 managed lanes.”  P3 is a public private partnership to widen I-270   It will be  paid by drivers traveling through  toll lanes on part of the highway..  

Also expressing support was Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor, who said Route 15 has its problems. “It backs up in both directions morning and evening, reducing trip reliability, and its on and off ramps are not safe,” he said. “Widening will address a critical short term headache of unreliable travel times.  And so it’s a major priority for the city, as well as the county, as it continues to grow and it prepares for the I-270 widening project.”

Route 15 between I-70 and Route 26 has  problems with traffic congestion and backups over the years, sometimes with  vehicles not moving at all.

Josh Bokee of Frederick also expressed support, but reminded state officials that construction also needs to begin as soon as possible. He said planning is stretched out over five years. “Using MDOT’s projections that over the next 20 years, an additional 40,000 vehicles might be traveling on to US 15, that would mean if construction was to start in six years, and be completed within ten years, that would mean another 20,000 vehicles would already be traveling on this dangerous roadway as compared to today,:” he said.

Other County transportation priorities include planning and design funding for widening Route 85 between Ballenger Creek and Guilford Drive; project planning money to widen Route 194 between Route 26 to Devilbiss Bridge Road; expanding para-transit service in the county; improving rural transportation; and expanding commuter buses and the MARC commuter train between Frederick and the Washington DC area.

By Kevin McManus