Maryland Continues to Face a Transportation Funding Shortfall
While our population and travel demand have grown steadily over the past three decades, investment in new transportation capacity in our state has actually declined in real terms. Maryland had dropped from 11th to 48th in per capita investment in transportation capital projects before the 2008 recession reduced dedicated transportation revenues even further. Maryland has since acted to bolster its dedicated transportation revenues, with a significant increase in funding in 2013, and passage of a transportation “lock-box” constitutional amendment in 2014 to protect future transportation dollars. However, reduced local funding and lack of funding for major transportation projects that would reduce congestion and improve transit access in our region remain major concerns.
Maryland has a unique, unified Transportation Trust Fund (or TTF)
The TTF was designed to support state operating and capital expenditures in these key areas: (1) State roads, highways & bridges, (2) two major mass-transit systems — Maryland’s share of the Washington area’s Metro system and all of Baltimore’s MTA system, (3) the Port of Baltimore, (4) BWI and other regional airports. The TTF is funded with dedicated revenue streams that are collected specifically to support transportation. These include: The State gas tax, vehicle titling fees, federal transportation funds, and a small percentage of both the State sales tax and the corporate income tax. Many of these fees are fixed in statute and are not indexed to inflation, which has caused them to dramatically lose value over time. In the meantime, construction costs have skyrocketed and federal funding has been severely constrained. As a result, despite the historic increase in transportation funding enacted in 2013 under the leadership of Senate President Mike Miller, Maryland remains short of the funding we need to properly maintain our current system and make critical investments in new road and transit facilities to meet ever-increasing demand.
The Current Funding Picture: Maryland will have nearly $1 Billion more to invest in capital projects once the recent funding increases are fully phased in — and that’s a big step in the right direction — but it’s not enough. Polls show traffic congestion to be the leading concern among Washington area voters in Maryland, that the State would make congestion reduction an urgent priority. However, this is not always the case. Today, we continue to struggle to find enough state funding for major projects like the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, major road, bridge and intersection improvements across the Washington region, and local transportation funding has been decimated in recent years. The most alarming thing is, we know that we need to complete all of the facilities in our regional Constrained Long-Range Plan (CLRP) – and more – to keep congestion from getting dramatically worse, but not all of those projects can be funded with current resources. We need to find additional resources, both from the public and private sectors, and think outside the box to keep up with the increased travel demand for road and transit facilities that we know is coming.
Without an Infusion of New Revenue, Key Priorities like the Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway, I-270 and I-495 Improvements, Simply Will Not Happen. There is not sufficient funding available now to complete these critical projects (past preliminary engineering and design). Clearly, this situation is unacceptable.
New Funding Options Currently Proposed Include
- Restoring local Highway User Revenues
- Finding new dedicated funding sources for Maryland’s three major transit systems
- Expanding the use of public-private partnerships and toll-financing
Doing Nothing Will Cost us the Most. The Road Information Project, a national transportation think-tank, has quantified the economic costs that Maryland residents are paying NOW as a result of severe congestion and deteriorating roads and transit service. The total comes to about $2,300 per person per year. This is extra money you are paying now, and includes all the wasted gas from sitting in traffic delays, the extra wear and tear on your car from stop-and-go-conditions and the increased number of potholes we are now seeing. When you add in the costs to our state from continued loss of jobs, for example when major corporations choose to locate elsewhere because of lack of convenient access to markets, customers, employees and airport facilities, the price of failing to address our long-term transportation needs can easily run into billions of dollars over the next decade or two.
There is No Time to Waste. According to recent studies, 44% of Maryland’s bridges are in mediocre or poor condition. 55% of our urban highway segments are experiencing severe congestion, and our region is projected to add another 1 million people by 2030. Surrounding states like Virginia are investing billions in new infrastructure, and major employers in our region are paying attention to which communities are making these kinds of investments. Maryland is falling dangerously behind, and this looming crisis in transportation capacity will cost us dearly if it is not addressed in a comprehensive and sustainable way.
The Choice We Face is Clear: Invest in Transportation Now, or Bring our Local Economy to a Grinding Halt.
Find out what you can do. Visit our Action page.