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Date: Aug 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug. 25, 2014

Contact:          John Sales

410-537-1017

 

 

HEAVY LABOR DAY WEEKEND TRAFFIC

ANTICIPATED AT MDTA TOLL FACILITIES

 

BALTIMORE, MD -- As summer comes to an unofficial close, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) reminds the more than 1.8 million motorists anticipated to travel its facilities over the Labor Day holiday weekend to plan ahead; travel off-peak; and Drive Smart.  Arrive Safe.  This total represents a two percent increase in traffic volumes compared to last year.

MDTA officials anticipate the following number of vehicles to travel its toll facilities between Friday, Aug. 29, and Monday, Sept. 1:

·         William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge (US 50/301) – more than 347,000.

·         John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95) – more than 453,000.

·         Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-95, I-395) – more than 452,000.

An additional 573,000 vehicles are projected to travel the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695), the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895), the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge (US 40) and the Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge (US 301) combined.  All totals represent traffic in both directions.

The MDTA offers the following travel tips for this holiday weekend:

·         Travel off-peak when heading to and from beach destinations.  The best times to travel the Bay Bridge this weekend include:

  •          Thursday – before noon and after 10 p.m.
  •          Friday – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  •          Saturday – before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  •          Sunday – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  •          Labor Day Monday – before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.

·         Don’t Wing It.  Plan Ahead! 

  •          Call 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726) for 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic conditions.
  •          Visit baybridge.com to view traffic cameras at the Bay Bridge and to sign up for email alerts.
  •          Follow the MDTA at twitter.com/TheMDTA and facebook.com/TheMDTA.
  •          Ease your travel with E-ZPass.  Visit ezpassmd.com to enroll on-line and for a list of E-ZPass “On the Go” retail locations.
  •          Know Before You Go - call 511 or visit MD511.org for statewide travel information.  To view real-time traffic camera images on MDTA roadways, visit mdta.maryland.gov.
  •          For current toll rates, visit mdta.maryland.gov and click on Toll Rate Calculator. 

·         Consider the Intercounty Connector (ICC)/MD 200 in your holiday travels.

Reminder:  If driving on the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95), the Chesapeake and Maryland House Travel Plazas are both open for service.

Keeping traffic moving as safely and efficiently as possible is the MDTA’s priority.  The MDTA Police will remain vigilant and target aggressive and impaired drivers, seatbelt violators and criminal activity.  Officers will target aggressive drivers during the fourth wave of the Smooth Operator Program from Aug. 31 through Sept. 6.  The MDTA Police and Vehicle Recovery Units will have additional patrols on duty to respond quickly to incidents and disabled vehicles.  In addition, the MDTA will lift construction-related temporary lane closures at its facilities from 5 a.m. Friday, Aug. 29, to 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1.

Please be aware of the new safety signage installed on the Bay Bridge, including:                                      

  •          MANDATORY HEADLIGHT USE AREA signs along both the westbound and eastbound bridges, which were installed in May. Headlights are required at all times on the bridge. Enforcement will begin after the holiday weekend.
  •          Curve warning signs and 40 mph speed-limit signs prior to curves on both bridges;
  •          YOUR SPEED IS driver feedback signs on both bridges; and
  •          DO NOT TAILGATE signs on both bridges.

I-95 South of Fort McHenry Tunnel:  A major rehabilitation project is underway on I-95 in Baltimore City. Currently, traffic lanes on northbound I-95 split around the work zone between the Caton Avenue on-ramp and the Fort McHenry Tunnel: three lanes to the left and one lane to the right.  Motorists in the three left lanes can NOT use Exit 52 (Russell Street), but can access Exits 53 (Northbound I-395) and 55 (Key Highway).  KEEP RIGHT TO ACCESS RUSSELL STREET EXIT.  The right lane still has access to Exits 53 and 55.  Northbound I-95 Exit 54 (Hanover Street) is closed continuously through mid-September.  The detour route directs motorists to Exit 55 (Key Highway), to McComas Street, to Hanover Street.  In addition, the on-ramp from Russell Street to northbound I-95 is closed continuously through mid-September.  The detour route directs motorists to Russell Street Service Drive, to southbound I-395, to northbound I-95.  Automated Speed Enforcement equipment is operational on northbound I-95 throughout the work zone.  Motorists should consider the Francis Scott Key Bridge (I-695) or the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895) if their destinations are north or south of Baltimore.

For your safety and the safety of other motorists and emergency personnel:

Bay Bridge westbound span.  Lane changes between the westbound left and center lanes are prohibited for the entire span, whether or not two-way operations are in effect.

  •          Obey posted speed limits and overhead lane-use control signals.
  •          Devote your full attention to driving – it is illegal to text or use hand-held cell phones while driving in Maryland.
  •          State law requires that every passenger in a moving vehicle be secured with a seat belt or child safety restraint. 
  •          Keep a safe following distance to avoid rear-end collisions.
  •          Do not change lanes while traveling over bridges and through tunnels.
  •          Keep your eyes on the road – do not sight-see. 
  •          Make sure your vehicle is “road ready.”
  •          If your vehicle becomes disabled, remain inside and call #77 for assistance.
  •          State law requires vehicles to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle using visual signals.  If you are unable to move over, slow down.

In accordance with the State’s budget-reduction plan, MDTA offices will be closed on Friday, Aug. 29, including the E-ZPass Maryland Stop-in Centers and Customer Service Center.  Visit ezpassmd.com or use the automated system at 1-888-321-6824 to sign up for E-ZPass, update account information or make payments via credit card.  Offices will reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

For real-time updates on major incidents follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/TheMDTA.

The MDTA thanks motorists for their patience.  Stay Alert So No One Gets Hurt!

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 4, 2014

Contact:          John Sales

                        410-537-1017

 

NEW $26 MILLION CHESAPEAKE HOUSE TRAVEL PLAZA ON I-95 TO OPEN TOMORROW

 Public-Private Partnership Supports 400 Construction and 575 Operating Jobs

Monument Honoring Maryland Military Women to Open in September at New Facility

 

BALTIMORE, MD – Weather permitting, at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, August 5, the MD Transportation Authority (MDTA) and Areas USA will officially open the new $26 million Chesapeake House Travel Plaza along I-95 in Cecil County, six weeks ahead of schedule.  The Market Place one-stop shop, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Sunoco fuel station, A Plus convenience store and restrooms will be the first to open followed by the Earl of Sandwich at 6 a.m.  The remaining food concessions will open at 10 a.m., including Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s and Auntie Anne’s. 

Through an innovative Public-Private Partnership (P3) with the MDTA, Areas USA invested approximately $56 million to redesign and rebuild the Chesapeake House and Maryland House travel plazas on the JFK Memorial Highway (I-95) in northeastern Maryland.  The Maryland House in Harford County officially opened on January 16, 2014, with Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin hosting a pre-opening tour and ribbon cutting of the new facility on January 13, 2014.

“The Chesapeake House, and the already operational Maryland House, offer state-of-the-art facilities and many options for residents and travelers,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “Through public-private partnerships like this one, we are able to create jobs and bring private sector innovation to our most critical infrastructure projects. I want to commend Areas USA for their work on this project, and I look forward to visiting the new monument honoring our Maryland Women Veterans.”

The Chesapeake House property includes a planned location for the Maryland Women in Military Service Monument.  The monument will honor women from the State of Maryland, past and present, who honorably and proudly served our nation in war and peace.  The Commission on the Establishment of the Women in Military Service Monument, in conjunction with Areas USA, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, is coordinating the design and construction of the monument.  Installation of the Maryland Women in Military Service Monument is expected to be complete by late September. 

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has realized another successful public-private partnership to meet the transportation needs of our State while creating jobs in Cecil County,” said Transportation Secretary and MDTA Chairman James T. Smith, Jr.  “We can use these two projects as models in our efforts to deliver transportation solutions that make a real difference to Marylanders.”

The new 30,000 square-foot Chesapeake House features food from Earl of Sandwich, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Peet’s Coffee and Tea and Auntie Anne’s.  The new 4,300 square-foot A Plus convenience store at the Sunoco high-speed fueling station features custom crafted food and drinks.  The Chesapeake House also includes the following amenities:
 

  •  Contemporary design and natural lighting;
  •  Additional bus parking and indoor/outdoor seating;
  •  Free Wi-Fi;
  •  Modern restroom facilities and equipment;
  •  Building with “green” features –LEED certified silver;
  •  Staffed Welcome Center; and
  •  Kids Korner seating area.

“We’re pleased to unveil this exceptional facility and introduce a new level of customer service to the millions of people who visit the Chesapeake House travel plaza each year,” said Xavier Rabell, CEO of Areas USA. “Working together with the Maryland Transportation Authority and many of our local partners, we have created an innovative facility that will exemplify Maryland’s leadership in water conservation and management and offers national brands, state-of-the-art facilities, convenient access and essential services, all within an environmentally sensitive design.”

Areas USA will operate and maintain the travel plazas through 2047, while the MDTA retains ownership and oversight of the plazas.  Sunoco, Areas USA’s gas partner, will operate and maintain the fuel stations.  The P3 agreement supports 400 construction and 575 operating jobs and will bring in more than $400 million to the State over the course of the 35-year agreement.

“Thank you to the millions of MDTA customers for their patience as Areas USA completed the new Chesapeake House six weeks ahead of schedule,” said MDTA Executive Director Bruce Gartner.  “The hard work and dedication of the hundreds of people who worked on this project is evident in both the new Maryland and Chesapeake House travel plazas, from the fresh landscaping and new sidewalks on the outside to the open space, natural lighting and modernized bathrooms on the inside.”

The original Maryland House, which opened in November 1963 along what was then called the Northeastern Expressway (I-95), housed a cafeteria and a sit-down restaurant with linen tablecloths and had two gas stations.  To meet the growing number of travelers along this busy interstate, the Chesapeake House opened in 1975.  The two travel plazas are among the busiest in the country, serving more than five million customers each year.

Timeline – Travel Plaza Redevelopment:

  • Sept. 16, 2012: Areas USA becomes new travel-plaza concessionaire.  The Maryland House closed for reconstruction; the Chesapeake House remained open.
  • Spring 2013: Construction begins on new Chesapeake House adjacent to existing facility.
  • Jan. 16, 2014: New Maryland House opens for business; Chesapeake House closes for reconstruction.
  • August 5, 2014: Chesapeake House reopens six weeks ahead of schedule.

Photos of the new Maryland House and Chesapeake House can be found at www.mdta.maryland.gov/MD_I-95_Travel_Plazas/Home.html.  Customers can provide feedback about the new Maryland House to Areas USA at 866-820-1178 or via email at guestservice@areasmail.com. 

 

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