Coming To #MACoCon? Avoid US 50 Salisbury Bypass!

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration today (MDOT SHA) closed the eastbound US 50/US 13 Salisbury Bypass at the US 50 Business (Salisbury Boulevard) split due to pavement damage and drainage erosion just prior to US 13 Business. The right lane was already closed at the same location for a pipe repair. The westbound Salisbury Bypass is open and not impacted by the closure.
“Significant rainfall last weekend created additional erosion under the road. For the safety of the traveling public, we closed both lanes, began immediate repairs and are detouring traffic,” said MDOT SHA District Engineer Jay Meredith.
Motorists are being detoured on US 50 Business through the City of Salisbury, which served as the gateway to beach resorts before completion of the Salisbury Bypass. MDOT SHA is retiming traffic signals on US 50 business to provide additional ‘green’ time to through motorists. Drivers planning to travel to the beach resorts are strongly urged to plan additional travel time. Overhead message signs will alert motorists to the detour.

Hogan Stresses Bay & Environmental Achievements in Sun Op-Ed

In a Baltimore Sun op-ed (2017-08-10), Maryland Governor Lawrence “Larry” Hogan discussed his Administration’s efforts on restoring the Chesapeake Bay and the need for Maryland to find a solution for the sediment and nutrient pollution posed by the Conowingo Dam. The dam basin, which for decades has served as a trap for sediment and nutrients flowing down the Susquehanna River, appears to be at capacity.

Hogan noted that his Administration has: (1) spent $3 billion in Bay restoration efforts in two and a half years; (2) restored funding for Program Open Space and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund; (3) developed a new Phosphorus Management Tool for agriculture; (4) enacted a revised Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and Maryland Climate Change Commission; (5) prohibited natural gas hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) in the State; (6) worked to update the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); (7) undertaken infrastructure resiliency efforts based on climate change, sea level rise, and severe weather events; (8) supported clean cars and electric vehicle legislation; and (9) invested in green jobs and clean energy.

From the op-ed:

In today’s world, far too much of our public discourse has degraded to half-truths and personal attacks rather than conversation and compromise. One obvious casualty has been the environment, which is now routinely used as a wedge instead of a common cause. Finding the right balance on environmental policy is important, but we all aspire to achieve the same goals — protecting and preserving the natural world we inhabit for our children and grandchildren.

Hogan called for finding “common ground” on environmental issues and taking “smart and balanced actions” to further environmental protection and promote economic growth.

 

Baltimore Invests $1.6 Billion In Sewer Infrastructure Upgrades

Baltimore plans to  invest $1.6 billion over the next 13 years to improve the city’s sewer system. The city’s Board of Estimates on Wednesday approved a new consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice, resetting the city’s effort to reduce waste running through the system to the Inner Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay.

From the Baltimore Business Journal:

Phase I, which is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 1, 2021, will include upgrades and repairs to the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant, which is supposed to reduce the amount of sewage that leaks out into the Back River near Essex. Phase II, scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, 2030, includes upgrades to the city’s hydraulic systems in the sewers to ensure that it can operate at capacity.

Currently, the sewage system is over capacity, which can lead to runoff in the Inner Harbor and the Jones Falls, and eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. Blue Water Baltimore, a local advocacy group working to cleaning up the city’s waterways, estimated that 12 million gallons of sewage were discharged into the Jones Falls and Inner Harbor during a storm in February.

BWI Leadership: Baltimore Workers Can’t Get Here 

Getting Baltimoreans to the BWI Airport to work has been “a major challenge,” Maryland Aviation Administrator Ricky Smith told The Baltimore SunAl Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, weighed in on the issue. From The Sun’s coverage:

[He] called the airport a “gem and an economic engine” for the state that is a gateway through which many city visitors arrive.

“We want as many of our residents who are looking for work to be able to get to work,” he said. “I’m glad to hear there’s a conversation being had to close that gap.”

“If we can provide a transportation option, it’s definitely worth studying,” he said.

BWI is the 22nd busiest U.S. airport, with an average of 70,000 passengers per day and 90 domestic and international destinations, according to Smith. 

Driving To #MACoCon? Traffic Alert!

Driving to the MACo Summer Conference next week? Great – we’ll see you there!

The State Highway Administration (SHA) wants you to avoid eastbound US 50/US 13 (Salisbury Bypass) at Northwood Drive – take US 50 Business (Salisbury Boulevard) as an alternate route, instead. SHA has closed the right lane of the Bypass at this location due to significant pavement damage caused by a collapsed concrete culvert under the road. SHA is assessing the damage and developing a repair plan, but expects the work to take until fall.

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According to SHA:

Due to the culvert damage, a void in the road was created between the damaged section of pipe and the pavement.  Crews will repair the culvert, fill the void and repair the concrete pavement. This involves cutting out the damaged concrete, pouring new concrete and allowing it to strengthen.  During this process, drivers may not see crews working in the lane closures.

The MACo summer conference is August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme is “You’re Hired!”.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

PALS Program Ready to Help Counties on Land Use, Transportation, & Economic Development Issues

Announcement Photo for PALS/Montgomery Parks Partnership (Source: PALS Program)

The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program has assisted with several counties and municipalities to solve a variety of land use, transportation, environmental, and economic development challenges. Most recently, PALS concluded a successful partnership with Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis and for the 2017/2018 academic year will be partnering with Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and for Montgomery Parks within the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).

PALS is a low-cost assistance program that leverages University of Maryland (UMD) graduate and undergraduate students to produce “real world” solutions for local governments. The program is administered by the National Center for Smart Growth at UMD, College Park. UMD faculty and students from across campus are tasked with assisting on issues identified by a partnering local government. The program is somewhat scalable, and is able to effectively respond to the needs of large and small local governments. PALS has previously worked with the City of Frederick, College Park, Howard County, and the Southwest Partnership in Baltimore City.

In tackling the challenges posed by Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis, PALS leverage the work of 430 students, faculty from 11 schools across UMD, and 30 dedicated courses. Projects ranged from very stirring video journalism projects covering the impacts of the heroin epidemic in the County to design solutions to help absorb coastal storm surges and address sea level rise in the Annapolis historic waterfront.

PALS is currently designing its 2017/2018 academic year syllabus to link faculty and classes to:

  • 5 projects for the Prince George’s County Department of Environment
  • 5 projects for departments within Montgomery County, and
  • approximately 15 projects for the Montgomery Parks within the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission.

The projects already matched with faculty and courses include: (1) how does the park of the future operate and what activities will be provided; revamping and streamlining the public procurement process; (2) standardizing specifications for the use of grey water in the parks; (3) improving recycling rates across all Prince George’s County neighborhoods; (4) an identification of potential sites for an animal shelter in the northern part of Prince George’s County; (5) a measurement of the economic impacts of community celebrations in downtown Silver Spring; and (6) creating a model for the maintenance of storm water management facilities in Montgomery County.

More information about PALS and the past local government projects is available at http://smartgrowth.umd.edu/Pals or by contacting Kim Fisher at 301.405.4481 or kmfisher@umd.edu.

Useful Links

PALS Webpage

Prior Conduit Street PALS Coverage

MDOT SHA Invests $5M for I-70 Infrastructure Improvements in Washington County

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is investing $5 million for road resurfacing in Washington County.

According to a press release,

Beginning early August, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) will resurface I-70 between the Tonoloway Creek Bridge and east of MD 615 (Heavenly Acres Ridge Road/Millstone Road) in Hancock. Weather permitting, the $5 million project will be complete late-fall.

Crews will patch, grind (remove the top layer of asphalt), pave and stripe all lanes and shoulders of I-70. Other work includes repairing or replacing guardrail and storm water inlet cleaning.

Last resurfaced in 2004, this nearly three-mile section of I-70 is home to an average of 40,000 vehicles daily, 23 percent of which is truck traffic. MDOT SHA encourages drivers to add extra commute time during construction.

Read the full press release for more information.

Fighting Parking Tickets? There’s An App For That

Five counties may see an influx in parking citations contested in court, if they haven’t already.

Start-up TIKD is a web-based service that allows users in Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Baltimore counties, and Baltimore City, to pay off parking citations easily online at a rate less than the fine charged. According to the Baltimore Business Journal

For locals, that means if you receive a ticket for a traffic violation anywhere in the city or in Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties, you can use the TIKD.com platform to automatically pay it.

The app allows users to simply take a picture of their citation, enter the fine amount, choose a payment method and be done with it. The platform charges a pre-determined fee for processing the citation that is always less than the amount of the fine itself. Then TIKD negotiates, pays off, or contests the citation in court. Users never have to speak to the attorneys TIKD hires to fight the citations.

TIKD was created a little over a year ago, and according to its website, is already available in the aforementioned Maryland counties. The company plans to expand to a total of 30 major metropolitan areas within a year.

Vehicle Emissions Program Gets A Makeover

The Motor Vehicle Administration is modifying the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) in an effort to save taxpayers time and money. The changes, which include extending initial VEIP inspections for new vehicles by one year, are in line with recommendations from the Governor’s Regulatory Reform Commission’s 2016 report.

From the Governor’s press release:

“Our administration remains committed to enacting common sense solutions that provide increased value for Maryland taxpayers and improve customer service, while protecting the health of our environment,” said Governor Hogan. “This change will put more than $2 million back into the pockets of Maryland taxpayers and maintain critical environmental protections.”

Numerous advancements in vehicle technology over the years have allowed for streamlined VEIP regulations. For example, computerized on-board diagnostic testing is now occurring on the overwhelming majority of vehicles in Maryland. …

The regulations will be submitted to Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review (AELR). When implemented, the enhancements will take effect January 1, 2018. In addition to taxpayer savings, the regulatory change will also save the state approximately $90,000 annually in reduced mailing and credit card fees.

Montgomery Approves Purple Line Construction On County Property

The Montgomery County Council granted legal approval Tuesday for the state to build and operate the Purple Line on county-owned land. The franchise agreement has a term of 70 years and authorizes the state to build, operate and maintain the project in county right-of-way.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reinstated the project’s Record of Decision, overturning U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon’s prior revocation and allowing the project to move forward while litigation ensues. State officials have indicated that construction will not commence unless the federal government executes the Full Funding Grant Agreement with the state to provide $900 million in federal funding.

From The Washington Post: 

The county council’s staff recommended that the panel approve the agreement before its seven-week summer break. The timing of the vote signals that state officials are moving quickly to get the project ready for construction, perhaps as early as September, depending on when, or if, the federal funding is approved.

The county did not ask the state to pay for the land, saying in the agreement that it “recognizes that the Purple Line provides valuable benefits to county residents.”

The agreement can be extended for two additional 25-year periods. The county can terminate it if the state stops operating the Purple Line for three consecutive years.

Read Conduit Street coverage of the Purple Line here.