Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Momentum Newsletter
April 2018

Administrator's Message: Let's Keep Maryland Beautiful

April is Earth Month. As part of our enduring and steadfast commitment to the environment, we are ensuring Maryland remains a viable, clean, attractive place to live, visit and work. We are reinforcing that same Maryland pride in all of our citizens and travelers to reduce littering.

Littering is extremely harmful to the environment, with trash typically carried by storm water to streams and rivers, and in some cases eventually entering drinking water reservoirs. I love to fish. I love to be on the water. And the amount of pollution and trash that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean breaks my heart.

Greg Slater

Greg Slater

It also costs taxpayers more than $8 million every year to clean up litter along Maryland highways, pulling skilled state workers off highway repairs to pick up other people's trash. This costs Maryland residents money that could be used to install culverts, re-pave a highway, purchase new snow plows or conduct critical bridge maintenance.

Not to mention, there is an additional cost to the economy when businesses and tourists fail to return to our state because of a poor impression. Maryland is open for business and our highways must support that in every way.

Some eye-opening littering statistics to consider:

75 percent of people admit to littering in the past five years;
Thousands of pounds of litter end up on our highways every day;
9 billion tons of litter are dumped into the ocean every year;
$11.5 billion is spent annually nationwide to clean up litter.

In cooperation with the National Aquarium in Baltimore, we will launch the "Where Does it Go" education effort to help citizens realize the harmful effects of litter on our natural resources and roadways.

Maryland is your home. It is my home. Let's all work collectively to treat our roads and roadsides as we would our own homes. Let's keep this beautiful state litter-free.

MDOT SHA Looks to the Future with a New Organizational Excellence and Strategy Division

Innovation -  MDOT SHA Looks to the Future with a New Organizational Excellence and Strategy Division

Director Jeff Cleland explains his vision and goals for the new Organizational Excellence and Strategy Division.

MDOT SHA created a new office under the Administrator to help bring our agency into the 21st century. The Organizational Excellence and Strategy Division will revolutionize outdated technology systems and groom a culture of innovation to ensure MDOT SHA is and continues to be an exciting, warm, welcoming environment to grow, learn and advance.

Recently onboarded Director, Jeff Cleland, comments on what his division will bring to MDOT SHA employees, "I think there's a lot of modernization that can happen here to make everyone's life easier. What we've done in the past was take technological upgrades in one area that made someone's life easier, but at the same time made someone else's harder. The new division will take a look at the larger picture - how do we bring in technology to make sure everyone's job is easier and more efficient throughout the entire agency?"

Currently working to bring in the best and the brightest, Jeff is in the process of onboarding a team to manage agency-wide modernization, change and growth. The Division will allow MDOT SHA to better meet the challenges navigating through a growing competitive marketplace by using new and improved business practices and strategies. The Organizational Excellence and Strategy Division is here to take your advice, determine a solution and work side-by-side with you to implement effective, lasting change.

Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Statewide Transportation Efforts Gains Momentum

Modernization - Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Statewide Transportation Efforts Gains Momentum

An aerial photo taken by a drone depicting the growth status of a young forest just west of Denton in Caroline County.

MDOT SHA's Office of Environmental Design (OED) conducts mitigation when a highway project will have unavoidable impacts to wetlands, streams, forests and other natural resources. OED is exploring using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to assist with the post-construction monitoring of wetland and stream mitigation sites. For example, drones have been used recently to obtain aerial photos to capture a site's hydrologic conditions and document vegetative cover. They may also be able to aid in the calculation of tree density and the identification of particular vegetation species. This reduces the amount of physical labor generally needed to collect this information. OED plans to pilot a project later this year to test this capability in Howard County.

To keep pace with MDOT SHA's fast-moving projects, drones may also be deployed to inform the public of a project's construction phase. Piloted in the MD 404 dualization project, drones were used to capture aerial footage for one of MDOT SHA's YouTube videos. Additionally, our own Road Ready electronic construction brochure - that keeps the public informed of road closures and detours - will offer a brief, historical photo essay of certain projects using drone footage.

A significant amount of research is being conducted on the practical use of UAVs in a number of DOTs including Ohio and Minnesota. Several DOTs are forming a Drone Working Group (DWG) to routinely share the latest transportation-specific drone research. With up to 200 members so far, DWG creates informative webinars in an effort to reduce duplication efforts between TBUs and expedite the adoption of UAV technology nation-wide.

Spring Cleaning: District 1 Puts Litter in Its Place

Customer Service Experience - Spring Cleaning: District 1 Puts Litter in Its Place

(From left to right) With litter sticks in hand, Snow Hill Shop FMTs Tony Turner, Chad Hall, Ellisa Jackson and Ryan Marshall beautify Worcester County’s US 113.

Just in time for spring cleaning, in late March District 1 hosted "Litter Blitz," a clean-up initiative to enhance the beauty of Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore communities. With warm weather on the horizon, in preparation for the influx of drivers headed to Maryland's shores, MDOT SHA maintenance crews were out in full-force in Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties putting litter where it belongs - in the trash.

MDOT SHA has partnered with the Maryland Department of Corrections and local "Adopt-a-Highway" groups to clean up our roadways. Since July, MDOT SHA D1 collected 157 truckloads of litter on 1,700 miles of state roadways in all four counties combined. Residents play a huge role in keeping communities clean, and MDOT SHA's statewide "Where Does It Go?" campaign educates drivers on the effects of littering on highways - an unfortunate form of negligence that severely pollutes local waterways.

"Warmer weather is coming and hundreds of thousands of people will come to visit our counties, so we want to make sure our roadsides are litter-free," said District 1 Engineer Jay Meredith. "Our maintenance crews are in cleanup mode and the Litter Blitz allows MDOT SHA to maintain green roadsides and protect the Chesapeake Bay's precious ecosystem."


Photo of the Month

In celebration of Go Orange and Roadway Worker Appreciation Day (April 11), Mike Veid, Project Manager for MDOT SHA’s $22.8 million Severn River Bridge congestion relief project reminds us to slow down and drive carefully in all work zones.

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