Maryland Transportation Officials Visit Frederick Thursday

They heard from local officials asking that US 15 project stay on track.

Frederick, Md (KM) Maryland Department of Transportation officials were in Frederick on Thursday to update the county on the Draft, Fiscal Years  2024-2029 Consolidated Transportation Plan which totals $21.2-billion. It contains funding “to maintain existing facilities and expand transit opportunities, invest in Maryland’s economy and support the state’s long term goals for safety,  equity, environmental stewardship and economic growth, ” according to an MDOT news release.

They heard about the US  15 widening project from Interstate 70 to Md. 26,   which has been the number-one project of  Frederick County officials for years. It has received  funding for design and construction.

Chelsea Kadish, the Chief of Staff from the County Executive, urged the state to keep the project on track. “This has been constantly a top priority for Frederick County,” she said. “We’ve reached 30 percent design. and anticipate design completion in 2025, and construction starting in 2026. We ask that this stay intact in the CTP moving forward.”

Kadish said she was speaking on behalf of County Executive Jessica Fitzwater who couldn’t make it Thursday evening.

Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor also  spoke in favor of keeping the US 15 widening project moving forward. “That we create a safer, more modern highway with modern intersections where the ramps and the surface streets come together,” he said. “It’s critically important as we build a new highway in 2023 that we not leave the ramps and the intersections adjoining them in the 1960’s.”

While expressing support for the US 15 project, Delegate Jesse Pippy said something needs to be done about traffic in general. “Traffic, it’s all day, everyday, seven days a week, and it’s going to get worse because the pipeline for development in the county is big. We have a responsibility to alleviate this issue,:” he said.

Para-transit also came up. That the transportation service provided to seniors who cannot or don’t drive any longer, or those with disabilities who can’t get around. It provides them with transportation to medical appointments and other locations. State Senator Karen Lewis Young said more state funding is needed for  para-transit services. “With an aging population as well as individuals with disabilities.  We want to get them to their health care so our costs are not in another area,” she said

State funding for para-transit has remained flat over the years. Senator Lewis Young says she will propose a bill in the 2024 General Assembly to do a study on funding for para-transit.

There was also support for expanding the MARC Commuter Rail Service.. “It is a critical link from Frederick to Montgomery County and the DC region. But we know that the system could provide even greater benefit through strategic service enhancements including midday and off peak service that would better align with the modern commuting patterns in the post-pandemic world,” Kadish said.

Also speaking in support was Jeremy Mose, the Assistant City Administrator for Brunswick. “Expanded service would not only meet the increasing service demand, but stimulate our local economy,” he said.

Mose also called on MDOT to construct a footbridge over the railroad tracks in Brunswick, and acceleration lanes along US 340 at the Brunswick and Petersville exits.. “These lanes would not only improve the safety of our roadways, but also enhance traffic efficiency, leading to a smoother and safer commute for our residents,”: he said.

By Kevin McManus