Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maryland issues statewide freight plan

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Building upon an analysis of commodity flows in the Maryland Freight Profile, Maryland DOT developed the Maryland Statewide Freight Plan, a multi-modal and comprehensive view of the state of freight and a freight strategy including a prioritized project list and complementary policies and funding approaches. The Plan provides an in-depth overview of the State's current and long-range freight planning activities and investments and is intended as a living document that will be consistently updated with feedback from internal and external stakeholders or users and beneficiaries of the freight network to also include passenger services as well.

 

As part of the freight-planning process, a committee of internal (state and regional) stakeholders has been identified as an Interagency Advisory Committee along with a panel of private sector advisors identified as the Freight Stakeholder Advisory Committee. Both groups began meeting as part of the freight plan development process but are now meeting regularly to advise freight. Additionally, the freight plan process included several outreach sessions to the Metropolitan Planning Regions and Southern Maryland for local governments, businesses and citizens to provide input to the plan.

As part of the plan, a Freight Project Needs Inventory was drafted that included the collection of over 200 public and private projects totally more than $35 billion in estimated cost. The Plan also includes a component to address the continually increasing demand for overnight truck parking. The Plan is designed to emphasize clear, achievable capital planning and outputs that can be implemented within five-year and 25-year planning horizons and is finalized with a list of the complementary policies and funding mechanisms to realize the goals and to have synergy with the Maryland Transportation Plan and other state plans in development. The plan is complete and is available on MDOT's website: http://www.mdot.state.md.us/OFL/StatewideFreightPlan.pdf.

In 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration completed a $1.0 million study to investigate aging railroad tunnels in the Baltimore area. The scope of the study included an evaluation of alternate tunnel routes for both freight and passenger service from, to and through the Baltimore metropolitan area. To build on the initial work, MDOT is partnering again with the FRA to utilize a $3- million earmark included in SAFETEA-LU to continue studies on the Baltimore Rail Bottleneck. These additional funds would allow FRA to take their original alternates investigation to a more detailed planning level of engineering, to investigate additional alignments and to conduct a rigorous cost/benefit analysis and business plan for the project. This effort will soon be under way. The engineering portion of this study is projected to last approximately 18 months.

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