WASHINGTON – All ten members of the Maryland congressional delegation have signed onto a bipartisan letter organized by Congressman John K. Delaney (D-MD-6) on behalf of Maryland’s request for FASTLANE grant funding for the I-81 Corridor Widening project.
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7), Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD-3), Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD-4), Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1) and Rep. Delaney signed the letter, which was sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on December 2 . The FASTLANE program was established in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to fund critical freight and highway projects nationwide.
The text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
Subject: I-81 Corridor Widening: Improving Safety, Capacity, and Reliability in Western Maryland
Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) 2017 Grant Request
Dear Secretary Foxx:
We are writing to express our strong support for the request from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) for FASTLANE grant funding to support the I-81 Corridor Widening project. To improve safety for local drivers, regional and national freight movement, and traffic operations, I-81 will be widened from four lanes to six lanes through a comprehensive four-phase project. With Phase 1 of the project having commenced in October 2016, MDOT is requesting FASTLANE funding, which will be utilized for Phase 2 construction and will leverage MDOT’s ability to move forward with Phase 3 and 4.
These upgrades are important both nationally and locally. I-81 is a strategic transportation asset that promotes and supports global and national commerce in the United States’ Appalachian and Northeast markets. It carries more than 19,400 trucks per day in Maryland, which falls within the top 1% of truck volume by lane mile in the entire nation. The expansion project has overwhelming support from public and private stakeholders who recognize the essential nature of expanding freight capacity and addressing safety deficiencies. Crash rates along the 12-mile segment doubled between 2010 and 2015, and are compounded by an increasingly high percentage of truck-involved incidents. Addressing this is important for interstate commerce, but even more importantly for the safety of the Maryland residents and residents of nearby states commuting on I-81 every day.
When completed, the I-81 Corridor Widening project will include the construction of two additional lanes of travel (northbound and southbound), reconstruction of existing bridges and overpasses, and interchange improvements along the 12 mile segment of I-81 contained within Maryland, which extends from the West Virginia state line to the Pennsylvania state line through Washington County. The expansion is a pivotal $396.5 million investment that will position the corridor to serve as a national asset for freight movement for the next several decades while also mitigating significant safety hazards.
As you know, smart investments in infrastructure can improve people’s quality of life, make their daily commutes safer and grow our economy locally, regionally and nationally. It is clear that widening I-81 falls into this category.
Thank you for your consideration of this project and MDOT’s request for FASTLANE grant funding. If you have any questions regarding our support for this project, please do not hesitate to contact us.