Top Issues of 2023: Zero Emission Vehicles

With the 2022 Legislative Session rapidly approaching, MACo is profiling some major issues that stand to gather attention in the General Assembly.

Maryland is one of the leading states when it comes to the adoption of zero-emission vehicles and in rolling out an electric vehicle charging network. In 2022, Maryland’s leaders are look stay a leader nationally when it comes to lowering emissions and encourage the use of electric vehicles.

According to the issue papers,

Several challenges lie ahead for Maryland and the other bay jurisdictions. While Maryland’s Phase III WIP indicates that the State will make necessary nutrient and sediment pollution load reductions by calendar 2025, recent EPA evaluations indicate that the State and other bay jurisdictions are not on track to meet remaining commitments. Recent federal funding initiatives may provide a boost to bay restoration activities in the near term, but questions remain about the State’s ability to fund implementation of the Phase III WIP and address increasing pollution loads resulting from climate change, population growth, and the Conowingo Dam. In addition, the blue crab population is at historically low levels, which may spark further management measures as well as efforts to better understand the factors contributing to the population’s decline.

Counties are the primary driver in develop Maryland’s electric vehicle infrastructure, and are keen to remain a major partner in this effort with the state.

The issue papers also highlighted the status of several key infrastructure projects at are of significant interest to counties:

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Background Over the past several years, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) has conducted several studies on issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, including transportation and safety needs, current and future maintenance requirements and costs, and traffic capacity and means to alleviate congestion. Most recently, MDTA initiated a formal process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to begin consideration of options for the addition of a third Bay Bridge crossing.

Status The Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study: Tier 1 NEPA (Bay Crossing Study) Final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and Record of Decision was approved by the Federal Highway Administration in April 2022. It designated Corridor 7/Existing Corridor (US 50/301 to US 50 between Crofton and Queenstown) as the Preferred Corridor Alternative. On June 10, 2022, Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. announced $28 million in funding for Tier 2 of the Bay Crossing Study. Tier 2 will evaluate various build alternatives and a No Build Alternative, consider transportation alternatives within the study corridor, and determine mitigation strategies for any unavoidable environmental impacts. Prior to the development of the Tier 2 Draft EIS, MDTA held public hearings in September 2022 and accepted public comments until October 14, 2022. Information on the Tier 2 study can be found at: https://www.baycrossingstudy.com.

I-495 and I-270 P3 Managed Lanes

Background In September 2017, Governor Hogan announced the I-495 and I-270 Public-private Partnership (P3) Program. As envisioned by the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the I-495 and I-270 P3 Program would reduce traffic congestion by adding two dynamic tolling 114 Department of Legislative Services lanes in each direction to the Maryland portion of the Washington Beltway (I-495) and to I-270 from the Washington Beltway to Frederick. As proposed, this $7.6 billion project would be paid for entirely from toll revenue generated by the project and would be constructed and operated by one or more concessionaires chosen through P3 procurements.

Status The I-495 and I-270 P3 Program has been rebranded as Op Lanes Maryland. In August 2021, the Board of Public Works (BPW) approved the Phase 1 Developer P3 agreement between MDOT/MDTA and Accelerate Maryland Partners (AMP). Under this agreement, AMP will complete the predevelopment work for Phase 1 comprising I-495 from the vicinity of the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GW Parkway) in Virginia, across and including the American Legion Bridge, to its interchange with I-270, and I-270 from its interchange with I-495 to its interchange with I-70. Phase 1 is expected to be constructed in at least two phases with the first phase, Phase 1 South, comprising the segment from the GW Parkway to the I-270/I-370 interchange. Additional P3 procurements will be used to select section developers to design, build, operate, maintain, and finance each section. The Managed Lanes Study Final EIS was published on June 17, 2022. The Record of Decision was issued on August 25, 2022, ending the environmental review for Phase 1 South. AMP is currently working to put together a development proposal for Phase 1 South and will negotiate a P3 Agreement with MDOT/MDTA to submit to the General Assembly, the Comptroller, and the Treasurer for review prior to taking the agreement to BPW for approval. A bid protest on the award of the Phase 1 Developer P3 contract award is ongoing in the Montgomery County Circuit Court. Project information can be found at https://oplanesmd.com.

Purple Line Light Rail:

Background The Purple Line light rail project is a 16.2-mile light rail line that will extend from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George’s County, with a total of 21 stations. It will provide a direct connection to the Metrorail Red, Green, and Orange lines at Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrollton. The Purple Line will also connect to the MARC train service, Amtrak, and regional and local bus services.

Status In January 2022, BPW approved a contract for a new design-build contractor and amendments to the P3 agreement for the Purple Line light rail project. This followed the December 2020 approval of a termination settlement of the original P3 with Purple Line Transit Partners (PLTP). As part of the settlement agreement, PLTP oversaw the procurement process for a replacement design-build contractor. With the support of the Maryland Transit Administration, PLTP selected Maryland Transit Solutions. BPW’s approval of the new P3 includes an increase of $3.4 billion to the design-build contract and an extension of the P3 contract term until 2056. These increases result in a revised total agreement of $9.3 billion (which includes the $250 million settlement payment) and a term of just over 40 years. As of September 2022, the overall project is 48% complete, with 97% of civil design, 85% of systems design, and 63% of utility relocation completed. Revenue service on the Purple Line, initially projected to start in March 2022, is now expected in fall 2026. Information on the Purple Line project can be found at https://www.purplelinemd.com.

Read the full DLS issue paper. 

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