Last month, the Rockville City Council abruptly reversed itself on the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), asking the State of Maryland to re-route the CCT alignment away from King Farm, one of the major communities it was designed to serve.  The State is now in the final stages of identifying it’s “Preferred Local Alternative” for the long-awaited transit line extending from Shady Grove Metro Station north to Clarksburg.  Supporters of the CCT are asking the State to continue with current plans and retain the alignment through King Farm, which was designed around the CCT as a “transit-oriented development” (or TOD) from its inception, with the full support of the City.  Without the CCT on the alignment that was envisioned in County master plans, the fear is that traffic conditions on surrounding roads, access to jobs and housing for King Farm residents and neighbors, and King Farm property values would all be negatively impacted.

The CCT will add tremendous value to King Farm by providing convenient transit access to destinations up and down the heavily traveled I-270 corridor, and it was a big part of the reason King Farm is there at all.  This is what transit-oriented suburban development was supposed to be all about.  Rockville would be better served by retaining the current alignment and the more sustainable development patterns that can be achieved through transit-oriented development, in King Farm and elsewhere.

A new report issued by The Road Information Project (TRIP), a national transportation think-tank, highlights the cost to Maryland citizens of the Free State’s continued failure to invest in its surface transportation network.

According to the report, “with the state’s population continuing to grow, Maryland must improve its systems of roads, bridges, and public transit to foster economic growth, keep business in the state, and ensure the safe, reliable mobility needed to improve the quality of life for all residents.” 

Among its key findings:

  • 44% of the major roads in Maryland are classified as in poor or mediocre condition.
  • 26% of the state’s bridges are either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”
  • 55% of Maryland’s urban highways are severely congested during peak travel times — eighth highest rate in the nation. 

Most alarmingly, the report finds that the poor condition of Maryland roads is costing Maryland drivers big-time:  To the tune of about $7 billion a year in unecessary injuries from traffic accidents, lost time due to congestion-related delays, wasted fuel, and additional vehicle operating costs. In the Washington area, that comes out to about $2,296 per motorist, per year, that is being lost due to a failure to invest in our most basic transportation infrastructure. (FYI – the cost to each of us from a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the state gas tax is only about $40 to $50 per year, depending on how much you drive!)

Former Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan, who chairs the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, said it best:  “After decades of under-investment, we are out of time, out of money, and out of excuses.  The time to fix this is now, and that means finding new revenues and making sure they are spent on our failing transportation system. ”  Amen. 

The TRIP report lists some of the key projects that would significantly improve traffic conditions, but are not currently funded for construction:  New transit lines like the Purple Line and Corridor Cities Transitway, improvements to the I-95/I-495 interchange, widening sections of I-70 and I-270 to add new lanes, and a host of other road, intersection, bridge and transit projects throughout the region.

Bottom line:  None of these projects can be funded today without a significant increase in transportation funding.  Read the full report: TRIP Report.