In an interview with Herald-Mail Media yesterday, U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen highlighted the importance of prioritizing improvements to Interstate 81, stating,
“It’s an issue of critical importance to the state and certainly to Washington County; it needs to be a priority. I think the people who live here know that this has been a priority for a long time.”
Herald-Mail Media reports that:
Van Hollen noted that U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, had said widening I-81 through Maryland was a good candidate for federal FASTLANE funding.
Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., recently criticized Gov. Larry Hogan for not applying for a FASTLANE grant this year. But Hogan’s office noted that the project wasn’t eligible because design work is incomplete.
“When John Delaney and I pushed this as a FASTLANE project, that was not a partisan issue,” Van Hollen said. “That was something that Bill Shuster had identified as something that should be front and center, and I will say I was a little surprised to learn that it was not in a place in the state of Maryland where it was ready to go.”
Widening I-81 is part of an overarching economic development strategy to improve Western Maryland’s ability to compete with neighboring states for business, Van Hollen stated.