At its May meeting the TPB approved 13 projects to receive technical assistance through the Transportation Land-use Connections (TLC) program. The board discussed a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) amendment for the Nice Bridge replacement and decided to defer action until June. Also at the meeting, graduates of the Community Leadership Institute received certificates for their participation and the board received a briefing on road safety in the Maryland.
There were two action items on the agenda. First, the board approved 13 projects to receive technical assistance though the TLC program. TLC technical assistance helps promote and design more walkable and bikeable communities.
Listen to the TLC presentation:
Vote on the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) deferred
The board deferred action on an amendment to the TIP that would update funding information for the Nice Bridge replacement in Maryland. TPB members were concerned about not knowing how safety accommodations for people biking and walking across the bridge would be made in the final design.
MDOT requested the amendment to add funding to the project information which would provide the balance funding needed to construct the replacement bridge. MDOT’s Heather Murphy presented the request.
After the presentation, TPB member Bridget Newton asked about proving a barrier separated bike path on the bridge. She was referring to earlier TPB discussions in 2018 and a letter that expressed a strong preference for a barrier separated bike path across the bridge.
Murphy responded that MDOT is asking for two design options, one with a separated barrier and another with a shared lane option. She noted that the project is currently in the process of accepting design ideas on both options and that a decision about which of these options would be adopted would not be made till later this fall. She also explained that the primary concern in choosing a design would be cost.
Newton noted that the TPB had been very strong in its support for a barrier separated path and said, “I’m concerned that it is now in question and am worried where this goes if we support this (amendment) without making that (barrier separated path) a fait accompli.“
Vice chairman Charles Allen expressed his concern saying, “I think there’s a lot of value in having a safe bridge.” He also noted that the TPB has weighed in on the issue over the last two years and also recognized that MDOT is considering the option. “But if the priority decision point is just which one’s going to cost less, I am concerned about that,” he said.
Will Pines from the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) noted that the funding was being added now so the agency could apply for a federal TIFIA loan at favorable interest rates. He explained that any delay could potentially impact the project costs.
As the discussion continued, board member Libby Garvey asked about the project description in the TIP that referred to a separated barrier.
Chairman Martin Nohe explained that he was concerned that the documentation didn’t match what MDOT was presenting. He also said that this matter “needs to get worked out, one way or the other; because we can’t not build projects that have been approved by our state assemblies based on procedural issues”.
Ultimately, the board voted to defer its vote on the amendment to provide MDOT time to work out the matter and revisit the matter in June.
Listen to the presentation and board discussion of the TIP amendment:
Maryland Department of Transportation safety briefing
At the January TPB meeting when the board set federally required data driven safety targets for the region. Board members were concerned that the latest numbers showed more fatalities on the region’s roads than in the previous year. As part of its resolution, the board asked for briefings from the transportation agencies about their safety programs and plans to improve road user safety. At the March meeting the Virginia Department of Transportation presented. In April, the District Department of Transportation presented and at its May meeting it was Maryland’s turn.
For each presentation, TPB staff asked the departments of transportation (DOTs) to provide an overview of their state safety programs and discuss the factors that contribute to fatal and serious injury crashes in their parts of the region. They were also asked to talk about their strategies, programs, and activities to address safety.
Similar to the other presentations, MDOT’s Timothy Kerns explained what the main factors that contribute to fatalities on Maryland’s roads. Kearns was joined by Anyesha Mookherjee presented on the kinds of interventions, through road design and education to address these factors.
Board member Kacy Kostiuk asked about the recent Vision Zero legislation from the Maryland legislature. Kearns explained that the state would not have to make any drastic changes to its program. Kostiuk also asked about behavioral factors and engineering factors contributing to crashes. Kerns and Mookherjee explained that many times there are multiple contributing factors to a crash, for example speed and road design can both contribute. Mookherjee explained that one challenge is to retrofit older roads as opposed to building new roads with safety features like bike lanes or more modern features for safer turns or merges.
Listen to the full presentation and board discussion:
Community Leadership Institute: The TPB honored the CLI16 participants with certificates of completion. One participant, Angela White talked about her experience and spoke to the importance of regionalism. ”If we don’t recognize and prioritize together, then we will continue to face the same challenges that we aim to address with Visualize 2045,” she said. Listen to the presentation.
Citizens Advisory Committee: The CAC met on May 11. CAC Chair Robert Jackson reported that the committee provided feedback on TPB Communications and discussed the committee’s focus for the rest of the year. Read the full CAC report. Listen to the CAC and AFA reports.
Access for All Advisory Committee: The AFA met on May 9. The committee learned about a report on health disparities in the region. It also received briefings on the Enhanced Mobility Grant solicitations, the TLC program, and discussed dockless vehicles to prepare for a workshop being held on May 31. Read the full AFA report. Listen to the CAC and AFA reports.