May 10-14th was infrastructure week, but when you work in the transportation sector, every week is infrastructure week. A system of modern transportation infrastructure is critical for Maryland residents and businesses. That’s what we’re working hard to build at the Maryland Department of Transportation.
I spent infrastructure week much like I do every week – not only running the day-to-day operations of our transportation department, but also collaborating with stakeholders and partners, out listening and talking to our customers and taking part in transportation forums, panels, meetings and other public events. I use these parts of my week as an opportunity to listen and learn from our peers in the public and private sector, but also to share some of the great things we’re doing at MDOT.
One day, I participated in an international GIIA webinar on the value of infrastructure. GIIA is a leading promoter of private infrastructure investment. I also attended a Purple Line leadership meeting working together to ensure success and the AASHTO annual meeting (virtually), which included my participation in a Board of Directors, transportation policy forum and a panel discussion about driving success with diversity, equity and inclusion. On top of all that, I participated in a meeting of the WMATA Board of Directors.
The next week was no different. Together, the past few weeks illustrated just how important transportation is, how important infrastructure is, and how important team MDOT is to this state.
This week included a live, detailed tour of Penn Station and inspection of the B&P Tunnel with Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn, where we discussed different opportunities and how we might craft a partnership to move these important efforts forward. I’m a big believer in partnerships and collaboration, and see them as key to building a modern, interconnected, efficient and reliable transportation system.
I also spent some time at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport where we are working with the National Guard to vaccinate our service employees and attended a ribbon cutting with Governor Larry Hogan for the newly expanded Concourse A. With five new gates, new restrooms and new dining options with Miss Shirley’s, this project was critical to serve one of our great partners at the airport, Southwest Airlines.
I checked in with our team on the Statewide Transportation Blueprint, an effort to add more detail to the statewide transportation plan; had a meeting with Charles County to discuss next steps for the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project as funding becomes available; worked on vaccination programs for Cruise and Maritime employees at the Port of Baltimore; and attended the Board of Public Works meeting (again virtually) with Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp. That was all by Wednesday.
The second half of the week I Chaired the Maryland Transportation Authority board meeting, where we took another important step to address the replacement of the American Legion Bridge and add managed lanes along I-270 – an effort that will replace a critical piece of infrastructure, relieve congestion, improve transit and provide more bicycle and pedestrian access across the river and to the C&O Canal. Construction will also come at a time where it will greatly contribute to Maryland’s economic recovery. Later that day, I had a call with the leadership of the Northeast Corridor Coalition, where I serve on the board, to talk about the Connect 2035 Plan, a roadmap for implementing projects through the corridor that include capacity improvements and trip time reductions.
Friday started with an event where we unveiled new bicycle accommodations on our MARC trains to help that system integration, a meeting with MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles to talk about air quality and I participated in an event within MDOT to honor Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
To close out the week, I attended the graduation of the latest class of MDTA and MTA police officer recruits. These are the ultimate public servants in a department that’s full of them. I couldn’t have been happier to see the pride on their faces and their families.
As you can see, transportation is complex, but vital to the state, region and people we serve. We touch nearly every facet of life, whether it’s our highways, transit and toll facilities or our port, airport and motor vehicle services.
Leading our department through this Covid-19 pandemic is tough but has illustrated how vital the work we do is to our citizens. It is my honor to serve as Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation. Together with our partners, team MDOT is building the infrastructure that will serve us now and our future generations.