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May 06, 2021

Trone, Slater visit seen as positive for U.S. 15 project

Credit: The Frederick-News Post, Ryan Marshall

One of Frederick County’s long-standing transportation priorities, improvements to U.S. 15 through the city of Frederick, could take a step forward with federal funding in an infrastructure package working its way through Congress.

Congressman David Trone (D) visited Frederick Thursday to tour the U.S. 15 corridor with Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater, a move that makes Frederick County officials hopeful that funding could be close at hand for a project that the county has been trying to move along for years.

Expanding the road from four lanes to six between Interstate 70 and Md. 26 has a chance to make a huge difference for the region, Trone said.

While the total project is estimated to cost about $140 million, they need about $9 million to get all the design drawings and other details done to show that the project is ready to move to construction, Trone said.

“The key is ‘shovel-ready,’” Trone said.

Trone has put in a request with the House of Representative’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for $8.8 million for the project in a transportation authorization bill.

Trone said he’s talked with County Executive Jan Gardner (D) about the project often.

“She has stressed that [project], I think, every time I’ve met her,” Trone said.

Gardner said Trone and Slater’s visit was a good sign that the project has moved up the state’s priority list, as well as attracted greater federal attention.

The improvements are needed for local and through traffic, as well as enhanced economic development, she said.

“It really is important to everyone in Frederick County to get this project done,” she said.

Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said he appreciated Trone’s commitment to helping the city and county upgrade the safety and capacity for U.S. 15.

“We will continue to advocate to our state partners and look forward to continuing the discussion with our federal partners to improve traffic in this corridor, which is both a quality of life issue for our residents and critical to sustaining our economic vibrancy,” O’Connor said in an email.

Frederick County Del. Carol Krimm (D) said she’s been working with the State Highway Administration about trying to get 30 percent of the design funding for the project in order to be able to do some smaller breakout projects along the section of U.S. 15 under discussion.

While she’ll continue to work on securing that funding, getting all of the design funded would be even better, Krimm said.

Delegate Karen Lewis-Young (D) said the expansion of U.S. 15 through the city has been a top priority dating back to her time as a Frederick alderwoman. She believes Trone’s funding request is “the furthest we’ve ever gone” toward getting funding.

Lewis-Young said she can’t remember a time when a secretary of transportation came to review the project, let alone with a congressman.

“I think that’s a great indicator” of the project’s chances for funding, she said.

Gardner agreed that Thursday’s visit was likely to help the project along.

“Getting the top people advocating on our behalf is exactly what we need,” she said.