In an era when states around the country are exploring and executing new and exciting versions of mass transit – Maryland continues to lag behind. The same governor that killed the Redline in Baltimore continues to hail his new plan to invest $9 billion dollars in highway projects in Maryland roads as transformational.
While our governor seems to choose analog leadership in a digital age, residents around the state have cried foul. Congestion on Maryland’s most vital roadways is increasingly eroding the quality of life for residents, while almost making it difficult for the state to attract new business or new residents. The future, not only in the state of Maryland but the entire country, is making a dramatic shift towards quick and efficient transportation centered on mass occupancy transit not additional lanes on roads.
Governor Larry Hogan and his Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn have had conversations in Washington with members of the Trump Administration, such as US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and V
ice President Mike Pence. The priorities that the Hogan Administration outlined in these meetings included widening I-81 in Washington County, replacing the American Legion Bridge on I 495 between Maryland and Virginia, as well
as federal grants to reconstruct the 122-year-old Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. Hogan has also eyed expansion of I 270. Hogan’s desire to add toll lanes to I 270 has left many scratching their heads. Many have wondered why the Hogan Administration has not had more conversation with the Trump Administration about mass transportation throughout the state.
The American Society of Civil Engineers issued a report in 2017 that states that Maryland faces a myriad of challenges. The same group and report gave the United States a D+ overall on infrastructure. The report grade covers a wide array of transportation related projects: aviation, roads, damn, drinking water, bridges, levees, public parks, and rail services. With so many aspects of Maryland infrastructure not worthy to attract business from around the country, it has left many wondering how Hogan believes it can be adequate for the current residents of Maryland. The call for acceptable mass transit throughout the state has been clear and loud.
Robert Kroll, an economist from California State University used data from the US Department of Transportation to appraise roadways around the state of Maryland. Kroll stated the 7% of the urban interstates in Maryland were of poor quality. Instead of adding more lanes and pouring more concrete into the interstate system of Maryland, we should be investing money in transporting as many people, as quickly as possible, as safely as possible, around the state and key locations outside of Maryland.
Hogan’s $9 billion plan to add additional lanes to the most congested roads of Maryland has no foresight, it is simply a nod to the past when our peers are pushing forward with innovative thinking and engineering. Hogan’s new plan is also built on PPPs or public-private partnerships. The new roads and lanes would be built and maintained by private companies but require some taxpayer dollars?
But transportation and smart growth advocates are calling foul. They have called Hogan’s $9 billion boondoggle nothing more than a band-aid for a “failing” Maryland infrastructure and transportation plan. Stewart Schwartz, executive director of Coalition for Smarter Growth stated, “It’s not a lasting solution to transportation problems.” Many have concluded that Hogan’s “magic” plan will simply increase traffic on both sides of the road. More highway road only encourages more highway drivers and the congestion will continue.
With infrastructure crumbling around the state and road congestion at an all-time high, perhaps Larry Hogan could focus on the trends of the future that many other states are utilizing to attract new business and new residents. If Hogan listened to residents around the state now, he would know that the bucket list is calling for mass transit options that would bring relief to the roads and allow for other infrastructure projects to be funded and come to fruition.