2011 Report Card for Maryland’s Infrastructure

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Mass transit has received signifcant national attention in recent years for its ability to provide an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to automobiles. With the recent rise in fuel costs combined with the economic challenges facing our state, Maryland has seen transit use increase more than for any other mode of transportation, including automobile travel. Transit use has increased 34 percent since 1996. The primary challenge in transit has become meeting the demand to expand the transit systems and provide new services while maintaining and improving the existing systems within a limited budget.

Maryland’s roadway network continues to be a vital part of the state’s infrastructure, which is a driving engine for the economy. The thousands of miles of local, county, state, and interstate facilities serve millions of Marylanders, as well as millions of others passing through the state. Balancing the needs of preserving existing infrastructure with the need to expand capacity continues to be a challenge when faced with a limited budget.

Dams are an essential part of Maryland’s infrastructure that enhances the state’s rich and abundant water resources. Maryland has 399 dams that provide benefits such as drinking water, irrigation, flood control, assets to fire fighting, recreation, renewable energy through hydropower, and habitat creation.

There are more than five thousand bridges in Maryland that form a vital part of the transportation infrastructure. A bridge closure will do more than just create local traffic delays. This breakdown in the transportation network will have repercussions on both local and regional traffic, emergency response, and commerce. Communities can become isolated. In an emergency, every second wasted because of a detour could be a life in jeopardy. Businesses can be forced to redirect shipments or bypass stops all together. While these consequences are true of any road closure, what makes the upkeep and maintenance of a bridge important is a very real safety concern. A bridge failure can result in loss of life, and it can have serious ramifications for the local economy.

Stormwater management is essential to both water quantity and quality. Maintenance and safety of aging conveyance systems and management facilities is critical. Recent federal and state regulations, which require significant, increased pollutant reductions, will necessitate an increase in the amount of stormwater infrastructure in an effort to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Safe and reliable drinking water is often taken for granted. In the Baltimore metropolitan area, the city of Baltimore provides drinking water to a population of nearly two million people. The multiple surface sources of supply are adequate for the population served; however, aging pipelines pose a major challenge to sustaining the level of service.

In the Baltimore metropolitan area, wastewater infrastructure systems have been deteriorating for decades. Not only are sustainable improvements to wastewater infrastructure needed, but proper ongoing operations and maintenance of these facilities are critical to protecting public health and the Chesapeake Bay.