Addressing Frederick County’s top transportation priority could be a step closer to being realized, with money for a design plan included in a federal transportation funding bill being debated in Congress.
The larger fate of infrastructure spending remains to be seen, however.
The House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to have a mark-up session Wednesday to make changes to the $547 billion INVEST in America surface transportation reauthorization bill.
The bill includes an $8.8 million request from Congressman David Trone (D) for U.S. 15 reconstruction.
Widening the stretch of road from four lanes to six between Interstate 70 and Md. 26 to relieve congestion has been the county’s top transportation priority with the state for several years
All of the interchanges in the area fail their traffic volume limits during both the morning and afternoon peak rush hours, and local leaders have repeatedly told state officials that improvements are critical to the community.
Trone sits on the House’s Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Transportation. He included the project among eight submissions for funding for local projects in his Sixth Congressional District.
After a vote in the committee, the bill would go to the full House for a vote. Its final fate will likely depend on negotiations on an infrastructure bill between Republicans in the U.S. Senate and the Biden administration.
While negotiations seemed to be at a stalemate Tuesday, the White House said President Joe Biden would continue to talk to senators from both parties to work toward a deal.
The funding for projects in his district will help create jobs and growth and improve quality of life, Trone said in a news release.
In May, the congressman joined Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater for a tour of the U.S. 15 corridor. The visit raised hopes among local officials for funding for the project.
County Executive Jan Gardner (D) praised Trone’s inclusion of the project.
“I am excited to see federal infrastructure funding to advance the construction of U.S. 15 through the city of Frederick,” Gardner said in a statement Tuesday. “This section of U.S. 15 has been the county’s and the city’s top priority transportation project for several years and is greatly needed to address congestion and accommodate both local and through traffic. The U.S. 15 project improvements are extremely important for business development and job growth, as well as for local residents who are traveling to shop, go to a doctor’s appointment or to just get across town.”
Along with the U.S. 15 project, Trone also included a request for $2.56 million in funding for the Frederick and Pennsylvania Railroad Trail, which would stretch from the end of a trail along East Street in the city of Frederick to north of Monocacy Boulevard, then out to Walkersville before ending in Woodsboro.
The 10-mile stretch would follow the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks out to Woodsboro. It would be built on an old rail bed until it reaches Md. 26, at which point it would run along the existing tracks to Woodsboro.