State reports few new transportation projects, after last year's long list

The Maryland Department of Transportation announced $280 million in new projects in its annual budget proposal released Tuesday, far less than the billions in capital improvements announced after the increase in the state's gas tax last year.

The state's latest "consolidated transportation program," which covers transportation spending from 2015 to 2020, instead pushes along various projects announced last year, including about $1.5 billion worth in the Baltimore region. The draft budget will be taken up by the General Assembly in the coming legislative session.


The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 provided a new revenue stream for the state's Transportation Trust Fund for the first time in years and led to about $4.4 billion in new or renewed projects statewide.

The latest budget outlines $279.4 million in new projects. They include several highway improvements, structural work on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and nearly $175 million in contributions from Montgomery County for projects related to the creation of the Purple Line, which will connect the county with neighboring Prince George's County and with Washington's Metro system.


The Montgomery County contributions are for improvements to the Bethesda station on the Washington Metro's Red Line, the Capital Crescent Trail and the Silver Spring Green Trail.

Additional $120 million contributions by both Montgomery and Prince George's counties covering work associated with the Purple Line were not broken out as new expenditures in the report; neither were contributions of $230 million and $50 million by Baltimore and Baltimore County, respectively, for the area's proposed east-west Red Line light rail project.

Those contributions were instead incorporated into overall costs for the Purple and Red lines.

The new budget also reflects an increase in the total cost of the Red Line to $2.9 billion and the state's withdrawal of more than $30 million for a CSX cargo transfer facility that had been planned in West Baltimore, developments that were reported last week.

Strong opposition from local residents of Morrell Park killed the cargo facility project amid diminishing political will, while a number of factors increased the cost of the Red Line.

Little else in the new budget is, in fact, new.

The report outlines 18 major projects completed in the past year at a cost of $945.4 million, including service on Washington Metro system debt of nearly $639 million and the replacement of bridges in the Baltimore region.

Another $800 million in projects largely announced last year are now underway across the state, including a new $125 million connection between international and domestic terminals at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and a nearly $140 million Kirk Avenue bus terminal in Northeast Baltimore.


"Marylanders deserve to see what they are getting for their money, and this six-year budget continues our commitment of using the funding generated by the Transportation Act to move projects through construction," said James T. Smith, the state's transportation secretary. "Our goal with this budget is to get projects out the door and in the field as quickly as possible so citizens can benefit."