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Money for Maryland road projects scarce

June 18, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

Money for road projects in Maryland has become scarcer in recent years.

The state's highway user revenue, which helps local governments make road improvements, was slashed a few years ago, leaving some counties and municipalities scrambling.

For example, the city of Hagerstown, facing a 92 percent cut to its share of state highway user revenue in the fall of 2009, had to cut $1.58 million from its budget.

The state distributed $554.9 million in highway user revenue to local governments in fiscal year 2007, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.

The amount declined to $529.7 million in fiscal year 2008 and $427.0 million in fiscal year 2009.

The big drop came in fiscal year 2010, when the state distributed $163.5 million, and fiscal year 2011, when the amount was $136.7 million.

For fiscal year 2012, the state expects to give out $147.8 million in highway user revenue.

Asked to compare and break down the funding for state road projects in Washington County in the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, State Highway Administration spokesman Geoff McCammon provided a summary of major projects under way or planned.

However, for smaller maintenance road work projects, the costs aren't always known until the contracts are executed, David Buck, another SHA spokesman, wrote in an email.

"As the list is not all inclusive I wouldn't recommend stating SHA is investing $X this year versus last year unless it is in the context of construction projects only," McCammon wrote in a follow-up email.

State projects that are under way in Washington County include finishing the improvements at the intersection of U.S. 40 and Edgewood Drive, at a cost of $7 million, and cleaning and painting the U.S. 340 bridge over the Potomac River, at a cost of $7 million.

The list of state projects in Washington County in the near future includes improving the interchange at interstates 70 and 81, at an estimated cost of $3.6 million, and making safety improvements and resurfacing U.S. 40 from Md. 56 to Boyd Road, at an estimated cost of $1.8 million.

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