Skip Navigation

Skip to Main Content

MDTA News Releases

MDTA News Releases with RSS Feed

mdotMaryland Department of Transportation

 

                       Roadway Fatalities Increase in Maryland and Across Nation

Officials Unveil New Strategic Plan to Reduce Traffic Crashes and Fatalities
Maryland's Goal: Toward Zero Deaths


Linthicum Heights, MD (April 26, 2016) - With several hundred federal, state and local traffic safety experts meeting at the 2016 Strategic Highway Safety Plan Summit to develop solutions to save lives on Maryland roadways, officials from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland State Police and National Safety Council today announced that in 2015, 520 people died in traffic-related crashes on Maryland's roadways. According to data collected by MDOT, the preliminary figure represents an increase from the previous year when 443 people were killed and follows a trend that has seen roadway deaths increase nationwide.

"This tragic increase in people killed on our roadways is unacceptable," said Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports. "For all of us dedicating our lives to highway safety, this increase in fatalities is a call to action to strengthen and expand our efforts to save lives on our roads."

Along with a rise in overall fatalities, Maryland experienced the following increases:

  • 35 percent increase in commercial vehicle-related fatalities;
  • 26 percent increase in young driver-involved fatalities; and
  • Double the number of bicycle fatalities from 5 in 2014 to 10 last year.

"Police officers in Maryland recognize the important mission we have in reducing traffic crashes," Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi said. "Our strict enforcement of traffic laws is a daily reminder to drivers that our laws are in place for their safety and violation of those laws impacts the safety of everyone on our roads. Our goal continues to be changing driver behavior by enforcement that is focused on those areas and driving behaviors where the need is greatest."

The data was announced at an event to formally kick off Maryland's implementation of a five-year plan to combat traffic crashes and the resulting serious injuries and fatalities. Known as the Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), the effort brings together local, state, and federal partners and organizations such as the National Safety Council, AAA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, AT&T, and numerous other corporate, non-profit, and public sector partners. The SHSP contains more than 30 separate strategies to reduce overall roadway fatalities by at least 50 percent in the next two decades. The Plan emphasizes solutions from the "Four Es" of highway safety - Engineering, Enforcement, Education, and Emergency Medical Services - and comprehensively addresses the troubling increase in roadway fatalities.

"We lose 100 people every day on our nation's roadways, and every single one of these deaths is preventable," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "This uptick in crashes is serving notice: We need to prioritize our safety. Driving defensively and staying alert can help us reverse this trend in 2016."

To reduce congestion, enhance roadway safety and fix all structurally deficient state-owned bridges, Governor Larry Hogan allocated nearly $2 billion in highway funds targeted to long-awaited improvements throughout the state. These improvements, along with recently announced roadway investments, include:

  • $24 million to improve 11 Salisbury Bypass bridges;
  • $81 million to reconfigure the MD 175/MD 295 interchange;
  • $86 million to widen US 113;
  • $100 million to reduce traffic gridlock along I-270;
  • $120 million to widen MD 404 from US 50 to the Denton Bypass; and
  • $152 million to widen a nine-mile stretch of MD 32.

The Hogan administration also is investing millions in targeted law enforcement strategies aimed at catching and arresting drunk drivers and educational campaigns focused on impaired driving, pedestrian safety, seat belt use and distracted driving. MDOT recently expanded a statewide campaign to help fight driver distraction by installing 26 signs prior to
13 rest areas alerting motorists of Maryland's law that prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving.

"It Can Wait!" is written in large letters on the signs to remind drivers that their call/text can wait until they reach the next rest area.

Officials at today's event highlighted areas that have historically been leading causes of deaths on Maryland's roads, including:

  • Impaired driving;
  • Speeding;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Not wearing seat belts; and
  • Not using crosswalks.

MDOT and its partners remind everyone of a few simple rules that will help save lives:

  • Always drive sober. Use a designated driver, call a cab or rideshare, or use public transportation but never drive if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Park the phone before you drive. Driver distraction contributes to nearly 30,000 injuries and more than 200 deaths per year in Maryland.
  • Always buckle up! It's the single most important way to save your life in a crash.
  • Slow down. Speeding will not get you where you want to go that much faster, but will contribute to a much greater likelihood of injury or death in a crash.
  • Use crosswalks and bike lanes. Being visible on the road is especially important for pedestrians and bicyclists. Wear bright clothing, obey the rules of the road while on a bicycle, and cross where drivers expect to see you. When driving, always look for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Look twice for motorcyclists. Motorcycles are sometimes more difficult to see so please look twice for them when changing lanes or pulling into an intersection.
  • Respect Maryland's work zones. Speeding and distracted driving through work zones is dangerous to workers and to other motorists.
  • Move over. Drivers approaching from the rear of an emergency vehicle that is stopped on a highway must move over into the other lane, if possible, and slow down.

                                                                        # # #

Note: Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign focuses on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving and distracted driving and promotes seatbelt use. For more information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, please visit towardzerodeathsmd.com .

tzd

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 19, 2016

  

KEY BRIDGE SHORELINE CLEANUP AT

MDTA POLICE HEADQUARTERS THIS SATURDAY

Last Chance To Sign Up THURSDAY

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), the agency that finances, owns, operates and maintains the state's eight toll facilities, will host an Earth Day “shoreline cleanup” this Saturday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the MDTA Police Headquarters near the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695).

Come help your neighbors and local volunteers clear the shoreline of debris that has washed ashore and let’s do our part to help beautify the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  All volunteers must register by 11 p.m. on Thursday, April 21, using the following link: https://mdtashoreclean.eventbrite.com.

Shuttle service will begin at 8 a.m. at the Key Bridge parking lot at 305 Authority Drive, Baltimore, MD 21222.  The last shuttle to the shoreline will depart the Key Bridge parking lot at 8:30 a.m.  Volunteers will be brought back via shuttle to the Key Bridge at the end of the event.

  • Volunteers must be 13 years of age or older.  Individuals under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult: one adult for every four minor children.
  • Waivers must be signed and submitted at the time of registration on Saturday.  Waivers will be emailed to volunteers who have pre-registered and also will be available at the volunteer site.
  • Clothing should be comfortable.  Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are suggested.  Comfortable yet sturdy shoes with good ankle support and rubber soles should be worn.
  • Gloves, vests, collection equipment and drinking water will be provided.

###
 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2016

 

Distracted Driving Month Kicks Off With Coordinated Effort to Save Lives


Officials Launch Statewide Signage Campaign to Remind Motorists: It Can Wait!
Rest Areas Designated as Safe Zones for Texts and Calls

 

I-95 Maryland House Travel Plaza - April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation today joined representatives from the Maryland State Police (MSP), Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police, AAA and AT&T to launch a coordinated statewide effort to save lives by unveiling new highway signs designating rest areas as safe texting and calling zones. Handheld cell phones are the leading cause of distracted driving, which results in nearly 29,000 injuries and more than 230 deaths each year in Maryland. The state is in the process of installing 26 signs prior to
13 rest areas alerting motorists of Maryland's law that prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. It Can Wait! is written in large letters on the signs to remind drivers that their call/text can wait until they reach the next rest area.

"Handheld cell phones have proven to be lifesavers, but when it comes to driving, these devices can be deadly," said Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Hogan's Highway Safety Representative Christine Nizer. "These signs will serve as a visible reminder to motorists that their calls and texts can wait."

Driver distraction is involved in 58 percent of all crashes on Maryland roads and nearly half of all fatal crashes. Nationwide, eight people are killed and more than 1,100 injured EVERY DAY due to distracted driving.

"The MDTA is pleased to unveil this important campaign's first signs on I-95 at the Maryland and Chesapeake House travel plazas," said MDTA Executive Director Milt Chaffee. "The MDTA Police also are stepping up distracted-driving enforcement and education at Maryland's bridges, tunnels and toll roads this month."

"Citations for distracted driving can be as much as $160 and can also include points on a driver's license," stated Lt. Colonel Anthony Satchell of the Maryland State Police. "Drivers who cause crashes when they use a handheld cell phone are subject to penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of $5,000."

"Encountering a distracted driver on the roadway is the biggest traffic safety concern facing Maryland motorists, even more so than drunk drivers, drugged drivers and aggressive drivers, according to a recent poll conducted by AAA," said Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and Government Affairs at AAA. "Forty-two percent of survey respondents indicated that distracted driving was their most important traffic safety concern in 2016."

"Since we launched the It Can Wait campaign, we've been working with organizations across the state to remind all drivers about the dangers of texting while driving," said AT&T Maryland President Denis Dunn. "We're excited to team up with the State of Maryland to help better spread the word to keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone because It Can Wait."

Today's launch included a driving simulator that illustrated the dangers of distracted driving to visitors at the Maryland House Travel Plaza. A statewide media campaign aimed specifically at preventing handheld cell phone use while driving also was unveiled at the event. Throughout April, radio spots, billboards and social media will highlight the life-threatening aspects of distracted driving.

Here's how to curb distracted driving:

  • Park the phone before you drive.
  • Make any calls or texts before you start driving or pull into a Maryland Rest Area or other safe place to make the call/text.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
  • Ride Responsibly. If you're a passenger, and your driver is texting or making calls, ask them to stop.
  • Drive Defensively. Just because you don't drive distracted doesn't mean that others won't.
  • Always buckle up! It's the single most important way to save your life in a crash.

                                                                               # # #

Note: Maryland's Toward Zero Deaths campaign focuses on preventing impaired driving, aggressive driving and distracted driving and promotes seatbelt use. For more information on the Toward Zero Deaths campaign, please visit towardzerodeathsmd.com .

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 18, 2016

 

MDTA TO SOLICIT INTERESTED PARTIES FOR

THIRD GENERATION ELECTRONIC

TOLL-COLLECTION SYSTEMS

Request for Comments Sought for the RFPs

 

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) today announced that it will be seeking comments on two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to develop and operate the third generation of its electronic toll-collection systems.  The MDTA anticipates issuing a Request for Comments via eMaryland Marketplace on March 30 to solicit feedback on the procurement of its Toll System and its Customer Service Center System.

“This is a significant contracting opportunity, particularly as MDTA will be awarding separate contracts for tolling technology/operations and customer-service technology/operations,” said MDTA Executive Director Milt Chaffee.  “Seeking industry input will allow us to refine and deliver the best RFPs possible.”

The MDTA will hold two business forums to present and discuss details regarding the procurements and offer site visits of its customer-service and toll facilities:

  • Customer-Service System Forum - Wednesday, April 6, 2016, 1 p.m.
  • Tolling System Forum - Thursday, April 7, 2016, 9:30 a.m.

Both events will begin at the MDTA’s offices at 2310 Broening Highway in Baltimore.  To register for one or both of the forums, please contact the MDTA’s Division of Procurement at mdtaprocurement@mdta.state.md.us.

Interested firms should register on eMarylandMarketplace at https://emaryland.buyspeed.com/bso/ to receive notice of the Request for Comments’ availability.  The MDTA plans to issue the final RFPs this summer.

The new Toll System will include replacement of the existing toll-lane terminals and all associated hardware and software, while the new Customer Service Center System will include establishing, staffing and managing a customer service center for E-ZPass Maryland operations.  Each system includes a development and installation phase, transition to the new system, six years of operations, 2 two-year renewals of operations and a one-year phase out. 

Learn more about the MDTA at mdta.maryland.gov and about E-ZPass Maryland at ezpassmd.com.  Find us at twitter.com/TheMDTA and facebook.com/TheMDTA.

###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2016

                                                       

  POLICE TO CONDUCT SOBRIETY CHECKPOINT

AT KEY BRIDGE ON SAINT PATRICK’S DAY

Give Your Keys to a Sober Driver

BALTIMORE, MD - To educate the public and to prevent alcohol-related crashes, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint tonight at the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695) toll plaza in Baltimore. 

During the checkpoint, the MDTA Police will distribute information about laws and penalties for driving while intoxicated or while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Motorists caught driving while impaired will be arrested and prosecuted.

According to a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers with an alcohol level of 0.15 percent were 12 times more likely to crash than sober drivers. The study also revealed that marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.

In 2015, the MDTA Police arrested nearly 1,100 impaired drivers and issued nearly 2,900 DUI citations.

The Maryland Transportation Authority Police, a nationally accredited force, is the seventh-largest law-enforcement agency in the State, with more than 600 sworn and civilian law-enforcement professionals. MDTA Police officers provide law enforcement at the MDTA’s highways, bridges and tunnels; at BWI Marshall Airport; and at the Port of Baltimore.

NOTE: If you choose to use an acronym, please refer to Maryland Transportation Authority as MDTA Police.  Thank you.

 

###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 18, 2016

 

MDTA POLICE RECOVER STOLEN CAR AFTER ARRESTING DRUNK DRIVER

Driver Nearly Three Times Over Legal Limit; Also Wanted On Warrants

 

BALTIMORE, MD - Yesterday, a Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Police officer arrested a drunk and suspended driver who was operating a 2004 Acura model TSX that was stolen on Feb.16 in Anne Arundel County. Police stopped the driver for excessive speed (73 mph in a 55 mph zone) and drifting across multiple traffic lanes, nearly causing a collision on the I-695 Inner Loop near the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Anne Arundel County.

"Fortunately, MDTA Police Officer B. Amereihn apprehended this driver before any motorists were injured or killed," said MDTA Police Chief Colonel Jerry Jones.

"This is just one example of how we're helping to make highways safer for Maryland's families."

After making contact with the operator, police administered standardized field sobriety tests and determined that Anthony Sean Burks, 30, of Baltimore, was operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. A computer background check revealed that Burks' privilege to drive was both revoked and suspended, and the Acura was stolen. Further review revealed that he also was wanted on two outstanding warrants for failure to appear and probation violation.

MDTA Police Officer Amereihn charged Burks criminally with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, theft from $1,000 - under $10,000, unlawful removal of property and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Burks' 11 traffic charges included DUI, negligent driving, driving while revoked, driving while suspended and exceeding the posted speed limit, among others. He currently is being held at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center on $50,000 bail.

The Maryland Transportation Authority Police, a nationally accredited force, is the seventh-largestlaw- enforcement agency in the State, with more than 600 sworn and civilian law-enforcementprofessionals. MDTA Police officers provide law enforcement at the MDTA's highways, bridges and tunnels; at BWI Marshall Airport; and at the Port of Baltimore.
NOTE: If you choose to use an acronym, please refer to Maryland Transportation Authority as MDTA Police. Thank you.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 10, 2016

  

BICYCLISTS GIVEN GREEN LIGHT TO CROSS

HATEM BRIDGE BEGINNING JULY 1

BALTIMORE, MD – At the Annual Bike Maryland Bicycle Symposium in Annapolis, Transportation Secretary and Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) Chairman Pete K. Rahn today announced bicyclists will be allowed to ride across the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge (US 40) starting July 1, 2016.  Currently, the MDTA prohibits bicyclists from traveling on any of its toll facilities.  For years, bicyclists have complained that the Hatem Bridge over the Susquehanna River has been a chokepoint for people attempting to ride the 9/11 Memorial Trail and use the East Coast Greenways from Maine to Florida.

“We have heard your requests and today, the Hogan Administration is delivering by allowing bicyclists to ride on the Hatem Bridge starting July 1,” said Chairman Rahn. 

Since there are no shoulders on the Hatem Bridge, the plan will allow bicyclists to share the right travel lanes with motorists.  A full implementation plan will be developed between now and July 1.  As the plan is developed, the MDTA will be making decisions on:  toll collection, safety signage, travel restrictions based on time of day, and more.

The MDTA is the agency that finances, owns, operates and maintains the State’s eight toll facilities.  The Hatem Bridge is the oldest of the MDTA’s toll facilities.  The 1.3-mile, four-lane bridge opened in August 1940.  The posted speed limit on the Hatem Bridge is 45 mph.

For real-time updates on major incidents follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/TheMDTA.  Find us at mdta.maryland.gov and on Facebook at facebook.com/TheMDTA.

 

###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Feb. 8, 2016

  

MDTA CREWS READY FOR WINTER STORM

For real-time updates on major incidents follow @TheMDTA or @MDOTNews on Twitter

#mdotnews

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), the agency that finances, owns, operates and maintains the State's eight toll facilities, is prepared for the winter storm predicted to start later today and continue through late tomorrow night.  MDTA crews are ready for winter weather that could bring dangerous driving conditions to Maryland.  

The MDTA has over 39,000 tons of salt available and will begin salting once snowfall begins.  If you must drive:

  • Do not pass snow plows and salting trucks. 
  • Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions. 
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists. 
  • Remember bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads will freeze first. 
  • If your vehicle becomes disabled, remain inside and call #77 for assistance. 
  • Stay alert and use caution.

On all MDTA bridges, wind warnings may be implemented as needed.  As the MDTA prepares for potentially severe weather, it has no immediate plans to close any toll facilities.  Any decision to close a toll facility would be based upon current weather and road conditions at a given facility.  The MDTA will make every effort to keep all of its facilities open as long as conditions are deemed safe to do so.

To view real-time traffic camera images on MDTA roadways, visit mdta.maryland.gov.  Know Before You Go!  Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheMDTA.  Call 511 or visitMD511.org for statewide travel information.  Follow MEMA at twitter/MDMEMA or go to mema.maryland.gov for the latest storm track & preparedness information.

The MDTA reminds motorists to stay alert and use caution if traveling.

###

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jan. 13, 2016

 

NEW FIRE EXIT SIGNS ARE PROACTIVE

SAFETY MEASURE IN HARBOR TUNNEL

Fort McHenry Tunnel signs installed later this year

FireEX

BALTIMORE, MD - The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) began installing new fire exit signs in the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895) last week. The new signs, which provide evacuation guidance for tunnel occupants during fire emergencies, show a green and white running figure on a green background and indicate the direction of evacuation and distance to tunnel exit.

"The MDTA strives to ensure that Maryland's tunnels meet or exceed the latest national and international tunnel safety guidelines and standards," said MDTA Executive Director Milt Chaffee. "In fact, we implemented this signage after participating on the national research panel headed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program."

The photoluminescent white and green signs include the 'running man' symbol, the message "FIRE EXIT" and dual directional arrows with distances to each exit portal so that occupants know the direction and distance to tunnel exit. The signs indicate two opposite directions and distances because the Harbor Tunnel occasionally operates in a two-way traffic configuration so emergency egress could occur in either direction.

"In Europe, the 'running man' signs are used widely in tunnels and have become a recognizable standard symbol to tunnel occupants to quickly identify emergency exits," said MDTA Chief Engineer Dan Williams. "Now, similar signs are being incorporated into tunnels across our country as a new standard sign."

The MDTA continuously looks for ways to enhance emergency response in tunnels. The plan was reviewed in conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association Standard 502, which provides the fire protection and fire life safety requirements for road tunnels.

Proposed Guidelines for Emergency Exit Signs and Marking Systems for Highway Tunnels

In total, 192 signs - 96 per tube - are being installed approximately every 80 feet along the inner wall of both tubes in the Harbor Tunnel. Installation is nearly complete in the southbound tube. Later this year, a similar signing program will be carried out in the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

The 1.4-mile, four-lane Harbor Tunnel opened in November 1957. Learn more about the Harbor Tunnel at mdta.maryland.gov. For real-time updates on major incidents follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/TheMDTA. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheMDTA.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 22, 2015

Contact: John Sales

410-537-1017

NEW TRUCK TOLL RATES FOR I-895/CHILDS STREET
AND
I-695/BROENING HIGHWAY TURNAROUND JAN. 1

Supports Freight Movement, Port of Baltimore Growth;
Getting Trucks Off Local Community Streets

BALTIMORE, MD - As part of Governor Larry Hogan's Statewide Toll Rollback Plan, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is providing new, lower toll rates for trucks using interstate toll facilities to access the Fairfield, Masonville, Dundalk and Seagirt Marine Terminals.

"Lowering tolls for trucks is not just a win for businesses but also for the residents as well," said Maryland State Senator Johnny Ray Salling. "Over the past year, I have been working on toll relief for this area and will continue to do so over the next several years."

"The lower toll rates are an incentive to encourage drivers to save time by using interstate highways and reduce truck traffic on local community streets," said MDTA Executive Director Milt Chaffee.

Beginning Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, commercial-vehicle drivers with a valid E-ZPass Maryland account and transponder will pay $2 per axle for 3, 4, 5 and 6+ axle vehicles to use the I-895/Childs Street ramps at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel or the I-695/Broening Highway turnaround at the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

"This is the culmination of several years' worth of collaboration between the State, the trucking industry and the surrounding communities to provide a viable, cost-effective option for trucks currently traveling through local communities to make their deliveries," said Louis Campion, President of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

"With the Port of Baltimore poised to benefit from major changes in containerized shipping that are on the horizon, the timing of this toll reduction could not be better," said Maryland Port Administration Executive Director James J. White. "We believe this toll reduction will be a great incentive for truck drivers to use interstate roadways to get to their destinations sooner."

The Childs Street exit and entrance ramps are located on I-895 at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel toll plaza. Currently, trucks on northbound I-895 must first go through the toll plaza and pay the toll before exiting to Childs Street (Exit 9). Trucks must also pay a toll after entering southbound I-895 from Childs Street. Trucks travel local roads through Curtis Bay to avoid the toll. The new lower toll rates will be charged via overhead gantries on the Childs Street ramps.

Currently at the Key Bridge, trucks on the Inner Loop of I-695 that need to access Broening Highway must first pay the toll and collect a toll voucher for the northbound trip. Drivers then take the service road beneath the bridge to the Outer Loop, present the voucher at the toll plaza and exit onto Broening Highway. The same scenario occurs for trucks using Broening Highway to access the Outer Loop. To avoid the toll, trucks travel local roads through Dundalk.

I-895/Childs Street                               I-695/Broening Highway

Toll Reduction Table

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Learn more about the new, lower toll rates at mdta.maryland.gov. For real-time updates on major incidents follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/TheMDTA. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheMDTA.