From the office of Sen. Nancy Jacobs:
Nearly seven thousand jobs have now arrived in Maryland under the military’s Base Realignment and Closure plan (BRAC). Many of those jobs have come to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, with thousands of employees transferring from Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey to Harford County.
The influx of these employees and newly hired staff is creating traffic issues that are plaguing those using roads leading to and from APG, especially during rush hours.
Today at a meeting of the Joint Committee on BRAC Senator Nancy Jacobs asked the State Agency’s overseeing the BRAC process to give answers about when promised road improvements will be made and why little change is evident at this late stage in the BRAC process.
This is the information provided in response to the Senator’s questions by the Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration about transportation projects near Aberdeen Proving Ground:
1) Improvements to US 40 and Md. 715: This project is fully funded and relocation of utilities is well underway. Not much construction is yet noticeable to drivers. Heavy construction is expected soon. The expected completion date is Summer of 2013.
2) Improvements to US 40 at Md. 159 and Md. 7: The funding is in place for Phase One which includes reconstruction for an additional lane on Rt. 7. Bids for additional work are expected in the fall and construction is planned for spring. The completion date for Phase One is the winter of 2013 or early 2013. The funding for Phase Two, a widening of US 40, is not secured at this point.
(Senator Jacobs says, “I am disappointed in the lack of progress on the US 40/Md 159 intersection because the funding is already in place. In fact the winning bid came in under budget with a great cost savings that should be used on another BRAC related construction project in Harford County. Yet, the state refuses to commit to that.”)
3) Improvements to 3 intersections along Md. 22 leading to the base: Design is complete. Funding is not currently in place. Two of the intersections at Paradise and at Beard’s Hill are eligible for Department of Defense funding under grants for Base Access Improvements that the state is perusing.
(Senator Jacobs says, “We can’t get commitments from our Congressional Delegation to move on trying to secure this funding.”)
4) MARC Train Station at Edgewood: Phase One is complete with expanded parking and platform improvements. Phase two calls for replacement of the existing trailer with a permanent structure. The Plan calls for construction to begin in September 2011 with a fall 2012 completion date. The Maryland Dept. of Transportation is awaiting Board of Public Works approval.
EDUCATED WORKFORCE ISSUES
Another disappointment is that Maryland universities have not stepped up to the plate by offering degree programs in the northeast part of the state to train people for future military and defense contractor jobs at APG. While Delaware’s university system immediately responded to that need, Maryland’s universities have not yet committed to providing high level degree programs in the area in science, math and technology. The state’s BRAC office just recently put out requests for proposals to Maryland’s universities. Senator Jacobs believes that should have happened long ago and a great opportunity is being missed.