MDOT Submits Automated Vehicle Technology ‘Proving Grounds’ Application to USDOT
Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete Rahn has announced that the state has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to designate a portion of the Interstate 95 (I-95) corridor in Maryland as a future Automated Vehicle (AV) testing and deployment area.
The application is in response to USDOT’s notice of intent to designate a select number of “proving grounds” across the country, which will help accelerate the development of AV technology to achieve a better understanding of the long-term impacts of self-driving vehicles. Maryland’s proposal includes the I-95 corridor from Aberdeen Proving Ground to the Fort Meade/University of Maryland region, and includes multiple public roadways, the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and existing public/private research and testing facilities throughout this region.
Maryland’s proposal takes advantage of existing development, testing, partnerships and investments in AV technology along the I-95 corridor and includes the following.
● Existing facilities already developing and testing AV technologies, including Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in Howard County and the University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory in Prince George’s County
● MDOT-owned facilities to provide future simulated and real-world testing environments, including the electronic toll lanes along I-95, the Port of Baltimore for freight operations and BWI Marshall for passenger shuttle transportation
● Private-sector companies already planning development and manufacturing of AV components within the next two years
The application does not allow immediate testing of self-driving vehicles on public roadways. Designated facilities should be ready to test AV technologies by Jan. 1, 2018. Although no federal funding is associated with the initial designation, it could lead to future federal funding and economic development opportunities for Maryland. Eligible entities include test tracks/testing facilities, racetracks, cities/urban areas, highway corridors and campuses.
Kittleman Introduces Bill to Expand Livable Homes Tax Credit
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has pre-filed legislation that would expand a tax credit for residents adapting their homes to allow them to “age in place.” The legislation is in response to recommendations from the county’s Commission on Aging.
Legislation filed with the Howard County Council would amend the Livable Homes Tax Credit to include a greater variety of projects that make it easier for seniors and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes, such as accessible pathways between parking and residences, adding railings to hallways, installing slip-resistant flooring and improving stair design. The tax credit allowed would be increased from 50% of eligible costs to the full amount of eligible costs or a total of $2,500 per project, whichever is less.
“Seniors tell us they want to stay in their homes and age in place, if possible. If they are on fixed incomes, they may not be able to afford necessary improvements or renovations to make that possible,” said Kittleman. “We are working with our Commission on Aging and Office on Aging and Independence to create reasonable tax credits to help seniors and people with disabilities get these projects done, so they can more easily live in the homes and communities they love.”
The Livable Homes Tax Credit was enacted in 2012 to provide a tax credit for the cost of installation of accessibility features in existing owner-occupied residences in Howard County. There is an annual cap on total credits issued of $100,000, which will remain unchanged.
The county’s senior population continues to grow rapidly. In 2010, 10% of residents were 65 or older. By 2025, this will increase to 18%, and by 2035, to nearly 22%. The county council is scheduled to vote on the expanded Livable Homes Tax Credit bill on Feb. 6.
MDOT Introduces New Electronic Bidding System for Highway Contractors
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) plans to use an electronic system for contractors to submit bids on future transportation projects. Beginning in early 2017, MDOT will use Info Tech’s Bid Express, a web-based service for electronic bidding (e-bidding), which will save money for contractors and for the state.
“By bringing our highway project bidding into the 21st century, contractors can securely submit bids from any computer, download contract documents, immediately receive any addenda to the advertisement and collectively save $800,000 every year,” said Gov. Larry Hogan. “The contracting industry has been asking for e-bidding for many years, and we are pleased this will allow them to spend more time being productive and less time navigating red tape.”
The Board of Public Works (BPW) approved the state’s participation with Bid Express, a service already used by approximately 40 transportation departments and thousands of contractors. MDOT previously required contractors to deliver a hard copy bid package to MDOT’s State Highway Administration’s (SHA) offices, in Hanover. Any minor error could result in disqualification of a bid.
For the state, the new system is secure; and bids include bond verifications and are instantly tabulated, results are ranked and reports can be exported. By using Bid Express, SHA also saves five days in the process and $68,000 a year because it no longer will need to send documents to Maryland Correctional Enterprises for data entry. The Invitation for Bids and contract documents will still be available for free on eMaryland Marketplace. SHA will fully implement e-bidding by summer 2017.
Howard Bank’s $500,000 Contribution to Help Revive Baltimore Neighborhoods
Howard Bank, headquartered in Ellicott City, has partnered with the Central Baltimore Future Fund, contributing $500,000 to help revive and redevelop 10 area neighborhoods. The bank’s contribution will be part of a $10.2 million campaign targeting the communities of Abell, Barclay, Charles North, Charles Village, Greenmount West, Harwood, Oakenshawe, Old Goucher, Remington, Wyman Park and one commercial district, Waverly Main Street.
The money will support initiatives that include clean and safe neighborhoods, blight elimination and housing creation, public education, commercial and retail development, local hiring and purchasing, and workforce development.
“These neighborhoods are vital to the future of Baltimore,” said Howard Bank President and CEO Mary Ann Scully. “While they are vibrant, growing and attracting new businesses, they need continued support to guarantee success. We are pleased to work with the Central Baltimore Future Fund and other lenders in this important effort.”
In 2006, the Central Baltimore Partnership (CBP) was formed to revive Baltimore communities and support and grow stakeholders in the area. The CBP launched the Central Baltimore Future Fund initiative to help form strategic partnerships with neighborhood organizations, nonprofits, educational institutions, businesses and government agencies to help target communities grow. The fund is formerly known as the Homewood Community Partners Initiative (HCPI).
Federal Recommendation of $1M to Remove Bloede Dam on Patapsco River Applauded
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and Senator-elect Chris Van Hollen, along with Rep. Elijah Cummings, have lauded the announcement of a $1 million funding recommendation through the NOAA Fisheries Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants program to remove the obsolete Bloede Dam on the Patapsco River.
When finalized, an action expected soon, the funding will enable the nonprofit organization American Rivers, working in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NOAA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Friends of the Patapsco Valley State Park and many others, to restore the natural resiliency of the Patapsco River Valley through the removal of Bloede Dam, which was built in 1907. The 34-foot-high by 220-foot-long, state-owned dam currently serves no purpose and presents both a human health hazard (multiple deaths have occurred at the site) and a major barrier to migratory aquatic species.
Removal of the Bloede Dam is the linchpin of a larger effort to remove four main-stem dams on the Patapsco and open more than 65 miles of spawning habitat for blueback herring, alewife, American shad and hickory shad, along with more than 183 miles for American eel.
“Removal of the obsolete Bloede Dam means the elimination of a hazard that has needlessly cost several human lives and prevented countless fish and eels from reaching their historic spawning areas, so this grant will mean both enhanced public safety and healthier aquatic populations,” said Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This funding also means a number of good-paying construction jobs and enhanced recreational opportunities for anglers and other users of the Patapsco Valley State Park, illustrating that efforts to remove obsolete dams are good investments in local economies and communities alike.”
MPT’s “Maryland Farm & Harvest” to Feature Howard County Farm
A Howard County farm will be featured in an episode of the new season of the Maryland Public Television (MPT) series “Maryland Farm & Harvest.” The Tuesday, Jan. 3, episode, which airs at 7 p.m., features Clark’s Elioak Farm, near Columbia, which is operated by mother and daughter Martha Clark and Nora Crist. The two women follow a family decree set in stone years ago that commands: “Never Sell the Land.”
Approximately 4 million viewers have tuned in to “Maryland Farm & Harvest” since the series debuted in fall 2013. For the past six months, MPT’s production team has filmed at more than four dozen farms and agriculture facilities across the state in preparation for the new, 13-episode season.
Joanne Clendining, who earned an Emmy for her work as host, returns for season three. She will be joined each episode by Contributing Editor Al Spoler, who serves up The Local Buy segment. The series airs on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on MPT-HD and is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m. Each show also airs on MPT2 on Fridays at 7 p.m. For more information, visit mpt.org/farm.
Hiring Event for Casino Live! in Annapolis
Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides and the City of Annapolis, in cooperation with Maryland Live! Casino & Hotel, will host a Job Fair to hire employees for the casino, with recruiters and hiring managers to be on-site to interview candidates for full- and part-time opportunities across all departments.
The event will be held Friday, Jan. 6, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pip Moyer Community Recreation Center, located at 273 Hilltop Lane, Annapolis. Positions at the new Live! Lofts are also open, including front desk, housekeeping, drivers and sales opportunities. Interested candidates must apply online prior to the event and can find job descriptions and requirements at www.jobsatmarylandlivecasino.com.
From MarylandReporter.com …
Collins: The time is right for MagLev high-speed rail:
The Hogan administration secured a $27.8 million federal grant last month to study the feasibility of a magnetic levitation (MagLev) train between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The grant can be used for planning and engineering costs. MagLev trains are propelled through a guideway by powerful magnets that allow smoother, quieter rides and a top speed of more than 300 miles per hour. Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2016/12/19/collins-the-time-is-right-for-maglev-high-speed-rail
Knight Foundation will match gifts to MarylandReporter.com:
MarylandReporter.com is one of 57 nonprofit news organizations from around the country that will receive matching grants, via Knight News Match, for any donations received over the next month until Jan. 19. Any donation of any size for the program – of up to $1,000 – will be matched dollar for dollar by the Knight Foundation, a major funder of nonprofit journalism. Donations are tax deductible, as MarylandReporter.com is an IRS designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Read more: http://marylandreporter.com/2016/12/19/knight-foundation-will-match-gifts-to-marylandreporter-com
MarylandReporter.com is a news site for government and politics in Maryland that is published and edited by Len Lazarick. For more information or to sign up for the daily e-news, visit www.marylandreporter.com.
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