Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration - Northbound Newsletter | September/October 2020
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Northbound News

A successful organization must occasionally find its bearings, determine its destination, develop strategies to navigate obstacles, and, finally, blaze a new trail for the years ahead. That's why we recently announced MDOT SHA's Northbound Strategic Plan and why we're renaming this monthly publication Northbound News to help us on our journey.

In the weeks, months and years ahead, we'll move forward with the 10 initiatives below. These are the destination goals to achieve based on our priorities as an organization. It will take teamwork to accomplish and arrive at them. Every initiative will be led by a Navigator and each Navigator's team will be composed of Trailblazers – both of whom will need our support as we all work together along our journey. Here are The Northbound Ten:

Create a Culture of Inclusiveness
Implement a Dynamic Human Resources Process
Formalize Operational Infrastructure Asset Management
Advance Highway Maintenance 2.0
Develop a Plan for Optimizing Funding Stability and Flexibility
Fill Capital Shelf with System Packages
Deliver I-495 & I-270 P3 Program
Establish Office of Alternative Project Delivery
Implement Vision Zero Plan
Enhance Internal and External Communications

In coming issues of Northbound News, we'll explain these initiatives and report on our progress implementing our Northbound Strategic Plan. Additional details also are available in the Summer/Fall issue of Interchange.

I encourage you to read the plan, which I provided in an August 17 email, and take the time to look for the opportunities YOU can take to help MDOT SHA move forward. I especially want to highlight the new Values and our previous Principles mapped out in the plan, as they will help guide each of us to wiser decisions in our daily tasks — especially when we all get a little lost 😊. You also may find it on our MDOT SHA Intranet homepage or by downloading the file at https://onemdot/mdotsha/ao/NB_Docs/MDOT_SHA_Strategic_Plan_2020.pdf.

Let us know what you think and how you'd like to be a part of The Northbound Ten via email at

Thanks for your help as we head northbound together.

From the desk of Tim Smith, Administrator
The Disappearing and Reappearing Bridge
Contractors had to assemble, take down and reassemble this bridge 22 times!
Contractors had to assemble, take down and reassemble this bridge 22 times!

Every project that MDOT SHA does in Maryland presents its own set of challenges, but not many are more challenging than the I-81 project in Washington County. It includes widening and superstructure replacement for dual bridges over the Potomac River. The contractor, Triton Construction, Inc. of St. Albans, WV, presented the innovative concept of a temporary bridge in its bid package.

The temporary bridge was built to allow the contractor to gain access to the entire River Bridge, adding additional footers and piers to widen the northbound/southbound structures to three lanes. The tough part is dealing with high water that can surge from the Potomac River.

At Triton, they monitor the National Weather Service website, which has sensors located in the Potomac River near Hancock, MD. The temporary bridge is roughly 9-10’ above the normal water level. When the river level in Hancock reaches that 9’ mark the crew has seven to eight hours to remove the bridge deck. To reinstall it takes five to six hours. All this can wreak havoc with a work schedule.

They now have it down to a science and no wonder: they have been hit with high water 22 times since 2016!

"The critical path on this project has always been on the River Bridge, and the Potomac River runs the show. The river has and always will be our most challenging obstacle," says Project Engineer Jeff Foreman.

Traffic is now open southbound from the River Bridge to the southern limits of the project at Exit 23 in West Virginia, with final configuration of three lanes all operational. Crews have completed the northbound stage two River Bridge deck pour and will soon pour parapet walls. They are still on schedule to have all traffic northbound/southbound in the final configuration by the beginning of December.

Before You Push that Button...
Before You Push that Button...

Our lives are increasingly dominated by social media that can deliver our strong opinions about the personal and the public. As a Maryland and MDOT SHA employee, remember that your social media remarks may be associated with MDOT SHA. Keep the following in mind when you post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other sites:

Please do share MDOT SHA social media posts – we post photos of you and your colleagues doing great work, project information, safety tips, job announcements and more. You can find us online at:
Please do not respond on behalf of MDOT SHA from your social media account. All social media posts and agency comments must come from the Office of Communication (OC), which releases and approves all MDOT SHA official statements.
OC is the only office with permission to create and maintain MDOT SHA's social media presence and use the MDOT SHA logo. The Office of Communications issues official responses to all social media communication about MDOT SHA.
MDOT SHA asks the public to behave respectfully on MDOT SHA social media pages and follow the guidelines on our website. MDOT SHA may hide objectionable comments.

You can learn more about MDOT SHA’s social media policy at https://onemdot/mdotsha/oc/Policies/SHA-GUIDELINES-FOR-SOCIAL-MEDIA.pdf.

Night Rides with CHART - by Brad Carey
CHART Field Supervisor Sean Frederick supports his field technicians every night, staying vigilant for dangerous drivers every time he steps out of his car.
CHART Field Supervisor Sean Frederick supports his field technicians every night, staying vigilant for dangerous drivers every time he steps out of his car.

Through the next several issues of Northbound, I will take you along on an overnight ride with the Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART).

I met Sean Frederick right outside the I-70 Park and Ride on a stormy night to begin our journey up and down the Maryland highways for a CHART ride along. Sean patrols the roadways nightly from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. as a CHART Field Supervisor while at the same time managing two CHART technicians designated to his patrol area. Despite the weather and the high volume of traffic, during the first few hours we were fortunate mostly just to change a few tires and mark a few abandoned vehicles for towing – which, while uneventful for Sean, was still highly dangerous, working within inches of highway traffic (we will delve into that in a later segment).

In addition, Sean completed what he considers his most important job — supporting his team. Throughout those first few hours and the rest of the night, Sean provided lane closures to assist his team with changing tires, crash scenes and disabled vehicles. The cohesion between CHART technicians is something that Sean loves about the job. While it is always important, he finds that during the overnight shift it comes at a greater need. With just three technicians covering an area overnight and the additional dangers that night brings, including limited visibility and the higher potential of impaired drivers, all CHART technicians must do everything in their power to be there for one another.

The Office of Communications' Brad Carey will give you more glimpses into driving at night with CHART in subsequent issues of Northbound News.

Night and day, CHART technicians help stranded motorists and assist Maryland State Police.


Night and day, CHART technicians help stranded motorists and assist Maryland State Police.

MDOT State Highway Administration 707 North Calvert Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202 |
Larry Hogan, Governor | Gregory Slater, Secretary | Tim Smith, P.E., Administrator