Making improvements to Md. 75 will be Frederick County's top priority in its request for state funding.
County commissioners voted to approve a transportation priority letter Thursday, which will be sent to the Maryland Department of Transportation. The agency will consider the priorities, along with those of other counties, before allocating funding for transportation projects.
The commissioners appeared generally supportive of the list but disagreed on how to prioritize the items on it.
A planning project to improve Md. 75 from I-70 to Lewisdale Road was moved ahead of projects at U.S. 15 and Md. 85 at the request of Commissioners President Blaine Young. A draft version of the list had the Md. 75 project as the third priority.
Young has heard concerns from residents about traffic, access to nearby interstates and future development in the area around Md. 75, he said, and moving the project to the top of the list sends the message that the county considers it a priority.
"We can say that we've been listening," he said in a phone interview after the vote.
The revised list, with Md. 75 in the top spot, passed in a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Paul Smith and David Gray voted against the changes.
Smith preferred the draft version of the letter, which listed as the top priority a project to add an extra lane each way on U.S. 15 from I-70 to Md. 26.
The project would be entering the final design phase and is farther along in development than Md. 75. Because the plan was already in progress, Smith said, it may have been easier to compete with other counties to fund it.
In a phone interview after the meeting, he said he hoped that moving the project down the list wouldn't hurt its chances of being funded.
County traffic engineer Ron Burns said the Md. 75 project will likely be a long time coming, regardless of its position on the priority list. Having the item on the list was more important than its exact position on it, he said.
No matter the order, Frederick County will be able to pursue funding for all three projects.
The cost of these projects is yet to be determined, Burns said.
In addition to the three top items, the list included the Meadow Road interchange project, which would add ramps from eastbound I-70 to Old National Pike and from Old National Pike to westbound I-70. A project to widen Md. 180 to a four-lane divided section from Solarex Court to a relocated Butterfly Lane — with an expanded bridge over U.S. 340 — will also be a county priority.
The top transit priority for the county will be expanding Maryland Transit Administration's 991 commuter service by allowing buses on shoulders on I-270. It will also try to fund additional park-and-ride capacity at Myersville and Emmitsburg and provide more services, including on weekends.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.
Just the facts
Top highway priorities
1. Md. 75 (Project Planning), makes improvements from I-70 to Lewisdale Road.
2. U.S. 15 (Final Design), adds an extra lane from I-70 to Md. 26.
3. Md. 85 (Phase I Construction), divides and expands Md. 85 from Crestwood Boulevard to Spectrum Drive and reconstructs the I-270 interchange.
Top transit priority
1. Enhance Maryland Transit Administration 991 commuter bus service by allowing buses on shoulders on I-270, providing more park and ride capacity at Myersville and Emmitsburg and starting off-peak, reverse peak and weekend service.
Source: draft transportation priorities letter