Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the state has stopped charging contractors to obtain engineering plans for highway-construction projects and that it instead will make the documents available free online.
Hogan (R) said the move helps fulfill his pledge to make the Maryland government more business-friendly, one of his rallying cries during the 2014 election.
“By eliminating this bothersome fee and allowing contractors to download engineering plans from their computers instead of driving to Baltimore, we are helping businesses save time and energy,” the governor said in a statement.
The change took effect July 1, allowing potential bidders to access construction plans without a charge through the eMaryland Marketplace. Contractors can view the documents as soon as the state advertises projects.
The Maryland Department of Transportation previously sold printed copies of the engineering plans, with prices ranging from $15 to $175. The fees brought in about $40,000 a year, and the state used the revenue to cover printing costs, according to the governor’s office.
The Hogan administration said that eliminating the charge will improve efficiency for businesses, increase competitiveness for potential bidders and eliminate the use of several tons of paper each year.
James Russ, president of the Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association, said the move “couldn’t be timelier” after the governor announced plans last month to spend $2 billion on roads and bridges in coming years.
“Time spent driving can now be productive, so e-plans save time, gas and money,” Russ said in a statement Tuesday.
This year, Hogan reduced highway and bridge tolls and launched a commission to examine state regulations to determine which are excessively burdensome.
Democrats also have taken steps to improve the state’s business climate, including forming a commission to identify challenges among businesses.
In February, party leaders released a report on the commission’s findings, which said that Maryland lacked a cohesive economic-development strategy, relied too much on federal jobs and often seemed more interested in enforcing rules than fostering growth.