Maryland– Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and the United States Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an agreement to evaluate transferring the federally owned Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Maryland control. The agreement will allow both parties to evaluate future operation and ownership alternatives for the portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that is administered by the National Park Service. It also acknowledges that the transfer cannot take place without federal legislation. Shifting the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Maryland, widening the highway in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties and tolling it is part of Hogan’s $9 billion Traffic Relief Plan.
Hogan’s plan for Maryland 295 is going to be a public-private partnership. While a private team of builders is expected to be awarded the Interstate 495 and I-270 widening, the Maryland Transportation Authority would build, operate and maintain the new lanes and maintain existing lanes between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The accelerated timeline for the initial Beltway and I-270 study aims to have the next rounds of technical analysis of the I-495 and I-270 toll lane alternatives done this fall. The details of the potential alternatives are scheduled to be presented at public meetings July 17-25. According to a timeline from the Maryland Department of Transportation, the state expects to issue its request for qualifications and a draft request for proposals (RFP) in 2018, and a final RFP and draft Environmental Impact Statement in 2019.
Pennsylvania– The Lehigh Valley Transportation Study approved $534 million of transportation funding as part of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Every two years, the Lehigh Valley updates its TIP, which establishes a maintenance schedule for bridges, roads and public transportation. In effect, the TIP confirms funding for existing projects and sets up money and timetables for new ones.
The plan includes $50 million to widen and improve portions of Route 22; more than $80 million in work along Route 309; and more than $30 million to widen the Lehigh River Bridge to MacArthur Road by 2020 and to design and acquire the rest of the road between 15th Street and Airport Road. The full plan includes 58 road projects, 57 bridge projects and several railroad improvements to be completed between 2019 and 2022. Overall, $244.3 million would be allocated for road projects; $144 million to repair or replace bridges; and $145.8 to fund the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority. Funding for the project is generally 80 percent federal and 20 percent state. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation oversee the projects. Most of the money comes from the federal government, with the state and local municipalities picking up the rest.
Louisiana– The Louisiana Department of Transportation (LADOTD) is considering its very first public-private partnership. The partnership would finance a $122 million Belle Chasse Tunnel and Bridge. The tunnel and bridge are the primary access points for western Plaquemines Parish residents and businesses as well as the Naval air station. Currently, the tunnel carries traffic in one direction across the Intracoastal Waterway, and the bridge carries traffic in the other direction.
Both structures need repair as the tunnel is frequently closed due to leaks and the bridge requires frequent maintenance. The proposed project would replace the tunnel and bridge with a new mid-level, fixed-span bridge, which would carry traffic in both directions and reduce or eliminate the delays associated with operations and maintenance of the older infrastructure. In February LADOTD issued a notice of intent seeking letters of interest from interested private companies and investors. The letters of interest are due by April 4.
Washington State– The Tacoma City Council is considering plans for a foot-ferry service to transport commuters between Tacoma and Seattle. A request for qualifications was issued on Feb. 22 for a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for the project. The deadline for responses is March 27.
Once the deadline passes, the Pierce Transit Board of Directors will then have up to 120 days after the deadline to vote whether to authorize funds to move forward with the study and award a contract to a consultant or consultants. If the feasibility study is approved, the project would begin this summer. The city council hopes to have the results of the study by the end of the year.