The state says it cut funding due to inflationary pressures.
Delegate Jesse Pippy (Photo from Md. General Assembly)
Frederick, Md (KM) The effort is expected to continue by Frederick County officials to restore funding for the US 15 widening project. Delegate Jesse Pippy, who chairs the local delegation and is also Minority Whip in the House of Delegates, , says he and Senator Bill Folden, and County Executive Jessica Fitzwater sent a letter to the Governor and Maryland Secretary of Transportation Paul Wiedefeld emphasizing the importance of this project.
Pippy says he met with Secretary Wiedefeld on Wednesday, but came away disappointed. “The Secretary gave us a spread sheet that discussed an eight-percent cut across the board that included several projects across the state,” he said. “I want to point out that the largest and most expensive cut was to Route 15.”
The Moore Administration is proposing $3.3 billion in wide-ranging cuts to the state’s six-year, transportation plan, which is facing inflationary pressures. Pippy says about $100-million will be cut from the US 15 widening project.
Pippy says the state didn’t give much notice about the proposed cuts to this project. He says he heard about it from the County Executive during Saturday’s Delegation Forum. “And it wasn’t even until the fact that we heard from a third party that they were even planning these cuts. So it’s a little underhanded, to be honest. I question their methodology because the reality is they could cut money from anywhere,” he says.
He also noted that the state is set to spend a considerable amount of money purchasing electric buses which cost about $1 millions each. “They seem to be still moving forward with purchasing million-dollar electric buses between $50-million and $70-million. But yet they can’t find the funding to pay for arguably what’s one of the most important transportation projects in the state, which is beyond disappointing,” Pippy says.
He says he and other legislators will be fighting hard to keep this project on track. “I don’t think we’re done with this issue. I think it’s going to brought up because I know a lot of officials are beyond frustrated and upset with this process. So I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it,” Pippy says.
The project would widen US 15 between Interstate 70 and Route 26. It had been Frederick County’s number-one transportation priority for years, receiving bipartisan support. It was in line for funding for design and construction work
Pippy says stretch of US 15 is “arguably a bottleneck, 24-seven, seven days a week, and it need to be adjusted.” “The amount of homes that are scheduled to be built in Frederick County means that congestion is going to get worse. That bottleneck is going to get worse. So if there’s no plan in site, it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he said.
By Kevin McManus