Deficit Could Delay Some Route 113 Dualization Phases

BERLIN – Future phases of Route 113
will be deferred after a $115 million shortfall surfaced in the Maryland
Transportation Trust Fund this week.

The dualization of Route 113
from Five Mile Branch Rd.
to Public Landing Rd.
must wait, according to a list of deferred transportation projects from the
Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). Money set aside for Route 113
access control will also be diverted to other projects for now.

The work currently underway on
Route 113 from Hayes Landing Rd. to north of Goody Hill Rd. will not be
affected. The next phase, from Goody
Hill Rd. to Massey Branch, will go out for bid
next week, according to State Highway District Engineer Donnie Drewer.

In total, MDOT will put off $1.1
billion in projects over the next six years because traditional sources of
funding have experienced significant declines, including gasoline tax and
vehicle titling and registration.

“The revenues received from the
motor fuel tax, the vehicle titling tax, and vehicle registrations are all
coming in below projected levels. These revenues are three of the largest
funding sources for transportation projects across the state,” MDOT Secretary
John Porcari said. “This is a challenging economic situation. People are
driving less and not buying as many cars. While this is healthy for our nation
in the long run, it dramatically affects transportation revenues.”

County Residents Action
for Safer Highways (CRASH) President Bob Hulburd said he was disappointed at
the delay, but he felt it was good news that the state did not cancel the
project outright.

“It’s not the end of the world.
I think it shows they need to seek some additional sources of revenue,” said
Hulburd, who has spent 14 years lobbying for dualization of the busy county
highway. “Bottom line is the needs aren’t going to go away. The needs are still

Elected officials must seek
other sources of highway funding and not rely on gas taxes and vehicle fees for
revenue, Hulburd said.

“Tragedies are going to occur
because someone’s not willing to step up and make hard choices on funding,”
said Hulburd.

MDOT is committed to full
funding for system preservation projects, bridge maintenance and replacement
and safety projects, Porcari said.

“The road needs to be done. I’ve
been involved in the project since 1994. Fourteen years later we’re still not
finished,” said Hulburd. “We’ve got to finish the job.”