Maryland Interstate 81 Project to Get $100M for Improvements

Phase 2 of the I-81 project has been a key priority for the western portion of the state and will facilitate economic and job growth while improving safety. Photo contributed by Maryland DOT.

An interstate project benefitting western Maryland is getting an infusion of state funds.

The state’s final fiscal year 2023-2028 Consolidated Transportation Program will see $100 million being invested to advance the Interstate 81 Phase 2 project in Washington County, Gov. Larry Hogan said. The improvements support expansion of the Howard Street Tunnel and growth of manufacturing and operations centers.

Phase 2 of the project, according to the release, has been a key priority for the western portion of the state and will facilitate economic and job growth while improving safety. The project will also address congestion and reinforce supply chain reliability.

“Our administration has been committed to making these transformative improvements to the I-81 corridor from day one, because it is such a critical economic lifeline for the communities and businesses of western Maryland, and it is vital to our interstate supply chain,” Hogan said in the release. “We are proud to move this project forward in spite of federal inaction and look forward to seeing all the jobs and opportunities it will deliver for the region. This is another way we are keeping our promises and changing Maryland for the better.”

The announcement, according to the release, comes on the heels of a U.S. Department of Transportation announcement declaring the project was not picked for federal assistance within the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program.

Upon learning of the federal decision, according to the release, Hogan directed the state’s Department of Transportation to develop alternatives to make the project a reality.

According to the release, the project will focus on a four-mile stretch of I-81, between Maryland Highways 63 and 68 and the CSX bridge north of Halfway Boulevard, and will widen the highway from four lanes to six. One additional lane will be provided in each direction.

“Improvements to I-81 are vital to prepare Maryland for the growth we know is coming to the logistics and supply chain network from good-paying jobs in Baltimore City at Maryland’s Port of Baltimore to jobs in western Maryland at growing logistic centers,” Transportation Secretary James F. Ports Jr. said in a release. “This commitment from Gov. Hogan is an investment in the future and will pay dividends here in Maryland and across the region for generations to come.”

The highway improvements, according to the release, support the Howard Street Tunnel expansion project, which was announced in November, as previously reported by The Center Square.

The expansion project, according to the release, will permit double-stack capacity for container railcars while increasing the demand for trucks to haul freight across the state, from the Port of Baltimore.

Additionally, the project will include a pair of charging stations for electric vehicles using Interstates 70 and 81.

We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.

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