Planning in Progress
Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner with Brittany Brothers, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, Maryland Department of Transportation
One of our partner state agencies, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), is updating an extremely important plan that, despite addressing issues affecting all of us, may not have previously drawn the attention it deserved – the Maryland State Freight Plan.
This plan examines existing and projected freight and supply chain conditions in the state and identifies policy positions, strategies, and projects that can improve the efficiency and safety of freight movement throughout Maryland.
The plan is updated every five years and, as part of this process, MDOT is seeking input from the public and all private and public freight stakeholders to help set goals and priorities for the efficient, safe, and sustainable movement of goods across the state. The most recent Maryland State Freight Plan, the Maryland Strategic Goods Movement Plan, was published in 2017.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most Americans had not experienced shortages of foods or goods since perhaps the Great Depression and Second World War. There have been a few exceptions, perhaps more commonly related to gasoline and oil supplies, but the sight of empty shelves in grocery stores, to the majority of us, is new.
Aside from issues of import restrictions due to public health concerns and hoarding of some essential goods due to consumer panic, we have also seen what can happen when one of the world’s largest shipping routes is temporarily blocked, as with the stranding of a single cargo vessel in the Suez Canal. These events have shed light upon and hopefully given us all new insight into the importance of the movement of freight and maintaining the country and world’s supply chains.
A safe and reliable freight system is critical to Maryland’s supply chain, and can lead to lower costs for goods needed by consumers and companies to support a high quality of life and successful economy. Ensuring Maryland’s network of highways, railways, waterways, airports, and ports – notably, Maryland has some of the largest and most active deep water ports in the world – are prepared to handle current levels of freight movement, as well as anticipated future growth, is a significant MDOT priority.
As part of the plan update, MDOT has launched an online survey to solicit public input on freight priorities and issues in Maryland. Survey results will help MDOT prioritize goals and objectives as the plan is updated. The survey (screenshot, shown above) is available through May 14, 2021, and can also be accessed from the Maryland State Freight Plan website. In addition to the survey, feedback can be provided by email at: MDStateFreightPlan@mdot.maryland.gov.
After gathering feedback from the public and stakeholders, MDOT will update the plan’s draft vision, goals, objectives, and strategies. A revised draft, reflecting this input, will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration in Spring 2022, with approval expected in late 2022.
The update of the freight plan will take into consideration other MDOT planning efforts including the Maryland Statewide Truck Parking Study the ongoing update of the Maryland State Rail Plan, and MDOT’s first-ever Statewide Transit Plan, which will provide a 50-year vision of all modes of coordinated local, regional, and intercity transit across the state.
For more information, including an overview of the freight plan and its draft vision, goals and objectives, please visit MDOT’s Maryland Freight Plan Webpage. Comments and/or questions may be sent to: MDStateFreightPlan@mdot.maryland.gov.