After several meetings with Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and other senior Hogan Administration figures, SMTA and other Purple Line supporters continue to present our case.  Today, County Executives Ike Leggett and Rushern Baker met with Governor Larry Hogan in Annapolis.  Initial press reports indicate it went pretty well, but it now seems likely a decision won’t be made until June.

See the two articles below for details.

We encourage all SMTA supporters to continue making the case that the transportation and economic benefits of the Purple Line make this a worthwhile project, and it will be one of the topics discussed at our Transportation Summit on June 12th, along with SMTA’s other regional priority projects. Register here for the Summit.

Final Decision Nears on Purple Line

SMTA is urging our members to contact Maryland Governor Larry Hogan this week to support construction of the Purple Line. In recent days, Governor Hogan has signaled continued concern over costs.  However, studies continue to show far more economic benefits, including job growth that, in our view, make it a sound investment.  The link above brings you to the Governor’s public comment page, and we hope you will take a moment to weigh in today or tomorrow, as a decision may be immient:

  • The Purple Line has already secured a $900 million commitment in federal funding – and those funds cannot be spent on anything but the Purple Line, so cancelling the project effectively forfeits those funds;
  • The Purple Line has been rated as one of the most cost effective transit projects in the USA by the Federal Transit Administration, and fills a critical and unique role in connecting several existing Metro lines together, forming a suburb-to-suburb network that matches current travel patterns;
  • There are no practical road or bus-system improvements in this inside-the-Beltway corridor that could deliver similar benefits at lower cost, due to extremely limited existing road capacity and available right-of-way;
  • The economic development benefits of the Purple Line are very significant, and very real: At least 31 major new developments are already in the pipeline — with tens of thousands of new jobs and over $10 billion in increased property values at stake;
  •  The ridership forecasts indicating over 69,000 daily riders are reliable and were made using the same methods as the Silver Line, which surpassed its initial ridership forecasts by a significant amount.

Jennifer Russel Takes the Helm – Ushering in New Leadership as SMTA Brings new Focus to Regional Priority Projects

Respected land-use planning expert Jennifer Russel, a Principal with Rodgers Consulting, Inc. and former Planning Director for the City of Gaithersburg, was unanimously elected to succeed Sam Raker as Chair of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance.  Her knowledge of the intimate relationship between sound transportation policies and land-use planning will be a tremendous asset for the organization. Under her leadership, SMTA will be broadening its focus beyond our original mission (advocating for increased transportation funding) to advancing priority transportation investments at the regional level that can have a game-changing impact on traffic congestion, access to jobs and housing, and quality-of-life for everyone in Fredrick, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Charles Counties. Please join the entire Board in welcoming Jennifer.

SMTA Regional Transportation Summit – June 12th, 8:00am – 2:00pm – Save the Date!

Please join us for a critical look at current long-range forecasts for the Washington Region – which call for a significant worsening of congestion under current plans. Find out what we can now do to change that picture from “Warning, Brake Lights Ahead” to something more livable and economically sustainable, what key leaders are thinking, and what it would take to significantly reduce congestion in several key corridors. Sponsorship packages and tickets are available at: 2015 Transportation Summit Registration

As Dr. Gridlock wrote in the Post recently, Congress is weighing possible cuts to Metro funding that would be both severe and unwise.  Here is a link to the Washington Post article.

Members of Congress from the DC region should unite to oppose this short-sighted proposal.  Experts across the region, as well as the public, recognize the key role Metro plays in keeping Greater Washington moving, and the federal government in particular has every reason to support Metro, given it’s critical role in supporting the transportation needs of the large federal workforce here.

Metro has significant capital investment needs — for safety, reliability, performance and user-experience improvements that are sorely needed — and Congress needs to be a constructive part of the solution.  It is one thing to criticize WMATA’s leadership or its well-known governance issues, but cutting the funding the agency needs to make progress and improve its performance is both unwise and irresponsible.

Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance (SMTA) Vice Chair, Richard Parsons, spoke out strongly in favor of the Purple Line at a recent debate at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring, organized by the Maryland Public Policy Institute.  Parsons squared off against noted transit critic, Randall O’Toole of the Cato Foundation.

Parsons made the case that both the economic development the Purple Line would bring — tens of thousands of new jobs every year in addition to thousands of short-term construction jobs — and the transportation benefits from creating a regional transportation network by linking existing metro lines together into a more robust system — would be well worth the $2.5 billion investment.

The debate was featured in several articles including this one in the Gazette.

SMTA is urging our members to contact Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to support construction of the Purple Line as soon as possible.

Business leaders from the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, other local Chambers and leaders in the building industry from across the Washington Region came together today at the University of Maryland for a strategy session with top political leaders on advancing the Purple Line, which is due to begin construction by the end of 2015.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has included initial funding in his first budget, and will be making a final decision on the project after a 90-day review period that coincides with an ongoing bid process involving dozens of private-sector firms seeking to participate in a public-private partnership to help fund and build the Purple Line.

Citing its profoundly positive economic impacts, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, and County Council Chairs George Leventhal and Mel Franklin from the same counties, joined the mainly business crowd in calling upon the Governor to approve the project, which remains one of SMTA’s priority near-term projects.

The economic return on this $2.4 billion investment is significant — new studies indicate that over a 30-year period the Purple Line would create over 27,000 jobs, increase surrounding property values by $9.8 billion, and generate a positive return to federal, state and local governments of over $10 billion, or nearly 5 times the proposed investment.

The state is facing financial strains, and other pressing transportation needs to be funded to be sure, but the vast majority of the funding already committed to the Purple Line is project-specific and cannot be re-purposed (including some $900 million in federal funds that will go to another state if not used for the Purple Line).  The fact is, cutting the Purple Line now, as it nears the finish line in a decades-long review process, would be a huge setback for Maryland businesses, the local economy, and future state tax revenues.

The project is nearly shovel-ready and is slated to begin construction by the end of this Fiscal Year.  This means its benefits — including tens of thousands of new construction jobs, rising incomes and improved property values — will begin to be felt right away, providing an almost immediate boost to state and local revenues (without raising tax rates).  Not doing so would have the opposite effect, and could set back prospects for other public-private-partnerships significantly by discouraging other bidders from stepping forward.

In our view, the case for the Purple Line has been made.  It is a sound business investment and should move forward now, not later.  With a newly elected Governor committed to job growth and economic competitiveness as his top priorities, SMTA and the business leaders at today’s meeting all share the belief that the Purple Line would go a long way to get us there.


The Washington Post recently ran a provocative article submitted by two leading transportation experts, Alan Pisarski and Peter Samuel, entitled Expand the Intercounty Connector for a Truly Regional Transportation Network.

The authors note correctly that — contrary to the “spin” we often hear from anti-road activists — tens of thousands of people are using the Intercounty Connector (ICC) every day.  In fact, more passengers are traveling on the ICC each day than on the much more expensive Silver Line, traffic on the parallel section of the Beltway has dropped 8% since the ICC opened, and significant traffic relief is already being felt on surrounding local roads.  It is clearly a big success.  The question is, what’s next?

The idea of future extensions of the ICC — both to the west, into Northern Virginia, and to the east, to Route 50 in Prince George’s County are both worth exploring.  The economic benefits from tying our region together with a more efficient highway network could be extremely significant, and it would open up new possibilities for a truly regional bus-rapid transit network using the new capacity.

What do you think?  Give the article a read and share your comments here.  Does extending the ICC across the Potomac and over to Route 50 make sense to you?  What other priorities should we also be looking at that could deliver the same kind of game-changing impacts on congestion and overall transportation network performance across the Washington region?  Let us know.

Purple Line mapThe Purple Line, a long-debated light-rail transit line running from the Bethesda through Silver Spring, College Park and eventually connecting all the way to New Carrollton, may be facing new hurdles with the election of Larry Hogan as Maryland’s next Governor.  As reported in the Washington Post, during the campaign Hogan expressed skepticism regarding the need for the Purple Line, though he later moderated his comments and now says he will keep an open mind.  We hope so.

SMTA has long supported the Purple Line as an important suburb-to-suburb connection between key activity centers on both ends of the Metro Red Line, as well as the Green and Orange Lines.  It creates a far more robust transit backbone for suburban Maryland communities and brings with it significant economic development and job-creation benefits.  Moreover, the Purple Line enjoys overwhelming support from voters in the DC suburbs and enjoys strong backing from the local business community — including all the local Chambers of Commerce and the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

While the new political terrain in Maryland may pose new challenges, and perhaps a new round of questions regarding the most cost-effective way to build the Purple Line, it is hard to see the project itself coming to a halt at this point.  Millions has already been invested in right-of-way acquisition, planning and engineering, and prior studies indicate significant economic and transportation benefits.

Maryland leaders should always seek to maximize taxpayers’ return on investment on major projects like this, so such questions should be asked (and have been).  However, we find that often the best way to reduce cost is to push for swift completion of projects to avoid the cost inflation that always comes from delay and inaction.

When it comes to the Purple Line, and other priority transportation projects in the Greater Washington region, it may be that further delay is the most expensive option of all.

ICC last segment Capture
Construction on final ICC segment

New Interchange in Prince George’s County also Set to Open by Monday

The InterCounty Connector, or ICC, will soon be open all the way from the I-270 corridor to Route 1 in Prince George’s County.

Here is a map of the new intersection at Route 1.  Please watch for new traffic patterns.

More details are provided in the update below from the Maryland Transportation Authority.


FINAL SECTION OF ICC AND NEW INTERCHANGE IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY TO OPEN BY MONDAY Process to Fully Open Both Roadways Starts Friday Evening Motorists are Urged to Pay Attention to New Traffic Patterns Beginning Friday evening, November 7, crews will begin opening the final section of the Intercounty Connector (ICC) / MD 200 to US 1 in Prince George’s County.  During this same time, crews also will begin opening the I-95 / Konterra Drive (formerly Contee Road) Interchange, located between the ICC and MD 198.  Both the ICC and the new interchange will open to traffic by morning rush hour on Monday, November 10, weather permitting.

The last segment of the ICC extends 1.5 miles from I-95 to US 1 in Laurel.  This project also includes a partial interchange at Konterra Drive and a signalized intersection at US 1 near the MARC commuter station on Muirkirk Road.  Commuters will have improved access to the Muirkirk MARC Station by traveling eastbound on the ICC/MD 200 to Konterra Drive (Exit 20), turn right, then left at the traffic signal on Muirkirk Road over US 1 to a left into the entrance for the MARC station.  The final ICC contract included improvements to I-95 to create new collector-distributor (CD) lanes for access to and from the new Konterra Drive, the ICC and MD 198 interchanges (see project map). Simultaneous to the opening of the final segment of the ICC, SHA will open a new I-95 interchange at Konterra Drive.

Motorists should use caution when traveling through the area over the weekend as crews will open the connecting ramps, roads and CD lanes in phases.  Drivers are urged to follow signs, watch for construction crews and prepare for new traffic patterns.  For more information about using the ICC and signing up for E-ZPass, visit and for more information about the ICC project visit and for state highways, visit For Statewide traffic conditions, visit  For the most up-to-date information follow us on Twitter at TheMDTA or on Facebook at

This is a message from the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Transportation “Lock-Box” Amendment Draws Support from over 80% of Maryland Voters

Maryland voters have spoken!  And with their overwhelming approval tonight, the Maryland Constitution will now be amended to prevent the diversion of Transportation Trust Fund revenues to non-transportation purposes.  Any way you look at it, this is a huge victory for Maryland transportation advocates, and passage of Question 1 will help ensure a more stable and predictable funding stream for major transit and road improvements in the Free State for years to come.

SMTA is releasing the following statement to mark this historic victory, which for us has been 10 years in the making:


Statement of Samuel Raker, Acting Chair, Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance (SMTA)

On the Passage of Maryland Ballot Question 1: November 4, 2014

This is an historic moment for transportation advocates in Maryland. In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the first major increase in transportation funding in a generation.  This year, voters moved to protect those funds so major new projects like the Purple Line, the Red Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, and hundreds of intersection, road and bridge improvements in every part of Maryland can move forward to construction.

The voters of Maryland have spoken loud and clear that they want to protect our future ability to invest in transportation by enacting a “lock-box” constitutional amendment – by a wide margin — that will effectively prevent Maryland Transportation Trust Fund dollars from being diverted to other uses. These new constitutional protections are real, and will set a high barrier that future state leaders will find difficult to circumvent, legislatively, politically and constitutionally.

Restoring the public’s trust that Transportation Trust Fund dollars will be spent meeting our urgent transportation needs was SMTA’s highest priority this year, and thanks to the hard work of leaders from across the political spectrum we can now say, “mission accomplished.” But the longer-term mission of improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation network remains a work in progress.

Of particular note today is the margin of victory Question 1 achieved: Based on unofficial returns (with 88% of precincts reporting at this writing), Question 1 appears to have garnered the support of 81% of Maryland voters.  This is a stunning example of the high priority Marylanders from across the political spectrum place on making investments in our critical transportation infrastructure.

This is also a vivid reminder to Maryland elected officials that voters have made transportation investment an urgent priority and they should too. Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller has been listening, and played a leading role in securing passage of Question 1.  He deserves much of the credit along with a strong coalition of groups and individuals who came together this year to see it through.  Let’s hope the days when most elected officials in this state treated transportation as a distant afterthought are long gone, however we must do more than hope.

The challenge now is to finish the job of ensuring adequate transportation funding by restoring the nearly $1 billion in local transportation funding that was diverted out of the Transportation Trust Fund prior to Question One’s passage, and never restored. Then let’s make sure going forward that our transportation dollars are invested wisely in projects that make the most difference in reducing congestion, improving access to jobs and housing, supporting economic growth and sustainable communities, and improving the quality-of-life of our citizens for years to come.

Passage of Question 1 is just a start, but it’s a heck of a good start!

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Coalition Press Conference Shines Bright Election-Day Spotlight on Question 1 

Today is Election Day, and as Maryland voters headed out to the polls, yesterday’s press conference in Annapolis by supporters of Question 1 generated a great deal of media coverage.  Their message was simple – invest in more jobs and a stronger economy, reduced congestion, better roads and transit service, and a better quality of life – vote FOR the transportation “Lock-box” amendment, Question 1.  If you have not yet voted, make sure you do!  Polls are open until 8:00 pm.  Vote FOR One!

Here are the highlights from today’s media coverage:

News Stories:

WBFF-TV 10P News –

WBAL-TV 11P News –

WBAL Radio –

Cumberland Times-News –

Transportation for America –


Baltimore Sun –

Washington Post –

Cumberland Times-News –

Easton Star Democrat –