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March 16, 2021

Trone Leads Maryland Delegation to Urge Biden Administration to Support Updating and Expanding I-81 Corridor in Western Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov

Trone Leads Maryland Delegation to Urge Biden Administration to Support Updating and Expanding I-81 Corridor in Western Maryland 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative David Trone, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, led Maryland delegation members in urging U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeig to approve the funding request for the I-81/Halfway Boulevard Freight Connection Project in Western Maryland. The request was submitted by Washington County and the Maryland Department of Transportation. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Representatives Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Andy Harris, Kweisi Mfume, and Jamie Raskin all joined the request.

I‑81 is estimated to carry 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product per year. The Maryland portion alone carries more than 19,400 trucks per day, which falls within the top 1% of truck volume by lane mile in the entire nation. This heavy usage creates a disruptive bottleneck that slows the speed of transportation and worsens road conditions.

The I-81/Halfway Boulevard Freight Connection Project would widen I-81 from MD 68 to beyond I-70, complete a county road that connects Interstate 81 with MD 63 via Halfway Boulevard, and address critical safety concerns.

“This application represents the strong partnership between Maryland, Washington County, and the private sector to leverage all available resources to complete this priority project,” the lawmakers wrote. “A federal investment in our community will help ensure that I‑81 remains a national asset for freight movement for decades to come – safely and responsibly moving critical goods and services around our nation.”

For letter text, click here.

A copy of the letter can be found below.

The Honorable Pete Buttigieg

U.S. Secretary of Transportation

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE

Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

We write to offer our full support for the I-81/Halfway Boulevard Freight Connection project, a joint application of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Washington County for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program. This project will improve operational capacity and mobility needs, as well as address critical safety concerns along this designated freight corridor in Maryland’s rural, Appalachian region. It also completes a long-planned county road that connects Interstate 81 with MD 63 via Halfway Boulevard, unlocking business development opportunities and equitable access to jobs, and providing alternative routes for freight traffic to both I-81 and I-70, improving regional freight mobility.

The I-81 Corridor in Maryland no longer meets system performance requirements, resulting in a disruptive bottleneck that negatively affects the movement of freight along this nationally significant corridor. I‑81 is estimated to carry 12 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product per year. The Maryland portion alone carries more than 19,400 trucks per day, which falls within the top 1% of truck volume by lane mile in the entire nation. Truck volume will only continue to increase with the boom in logistic companies opening up in the region. Further, this has proven to be critical this past year during the COVID-19 health crisis with getting essential items delivered throughout the region and around our nation.

The widening of I-81 from MD 68 to beyond I-70, done in conjunction with the extension of Halfway Boulevard, will be an enormous boost to the regional economy. An investment in this project will support thousands of existing jobs already in the corridor and promote additional employment opportunities, all of which are accessible to the most challenged populations in the quad-state region and adjacent Opportunity Zones. This project will also enable the development of new business parks, increase freight access and connectivity, expand critically needed truck parking, and reduce traffic congestion, travel times, air pollution, and safety hazards. Further, as an Electric Vehicle (EV) Ready corridor, I‑81 connects to a network of EV charging locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia as green technology is advanced in the region to combat climate change.

We appreciate your strong consideration of this joint application for the I-81/Halfway Boulevard Freight Connection Project. This application represents the strong partnership between Maryland, Washington County, and the private sector to leverage all available resources to complete this priority project. A federal investment in our community will help ensure that I‑81 remains a national asset for freight movement for decades to come – safely and responsibly moving critical goods and services around our nation.

Sincerely,

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