One of our key goals at SMTA  is to raise the level of the debate over transportation policy in our region, to focus more on the factual issues, less on politics or ideology.  

This is why we were pleased to participate in the recent survey of regional transportation experts released by the 2030 Group.  A recent article in Patch.com  reported on this effort.  

NewsChannel 8’s “News Talk with Bruce DePuyt” also did a follow-up piece today, with both SMTA and anti-road activists represented, in what turned out to be a lively debate.  The show illustrated areas of agreement and stark differences of opinion between those of us who seek to have multi-billion-dollar investments in transportation guided by solid planning, engineering and factual analysis,  and those who prefer to rely upon blind ideology and wishful thinking. 

Facts are stubborn things, however, and by focussing on the facts we hope to help bring the entire commnity together around a set of solutions that are realistic and can work, regardless of whether they are roads or transit, or something else entirely.   We welcome your continued input on this topic as we move forward. 

Click here for more on the key findings of the 2030 Group’s survey of regional transportation experts on regional transportation priorities.

We will also continue to press for increased investement in all modes of transportation, as no amount of discussion about priorities will accomplish anything without investing the necessary resources to get any of them built.  Maryland legislators, are you listening? 

Maryland State Senator Robert Garagiola, the chief sponsor of key transportation funding bills during the 2011 General Assembly Session, addressed the SMTA Board this week and reported back on the progress that was made this year in Annapolis, calling the overall result “a few steps forward and a few steps back.” 

Garagiola is also a member of Governor Martin O’Malley’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, and discussed with the SMTA Board the status and future direction of the Task Force.  Sen. Garagiola was instrumental in leading what proved to be an unsuccessful fight for increased transportation revenues in Annapolis this year.  His efforts were made that much harder by external events, such as the instability in the Middle East and resulting short-term spike in fuel prices.    Discussions are now underway to raise the issue of Maryland’s ongoing transportation funding crisis during the upcoming special session on redistricting, and Senator Garagiola indicated he would continue to press for solutions.

The Maryland General Assembly just concluded its 2011 session with more disappointing results.  Despite a strongly worded plea from the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, urging them to provide $800 million more in dedicated transportation funds, the General Assembly took a big step in the WRONG direction, cutting the already depleted Transportation Trust Fund by another $41 million this year.

This short-sighted action means many more months of continued high unemployment in Maryland’s bleaguered construction industry, more potholes, worsening gridlock, and no hope of moving to construction in the near term on any major transit or road improvements in our area.  Current funding levels do not support construction of the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, or even the minimum requirements to keep up with failing bridge and road repairs across the State. 

Once again, Maryland legislators have put Transportation at the bottom of their priority list, and we are all paying the price.   Please join our mailing list and sign our petition asking Maryland officials to “Invest Now” and address Maryland’s severe transportation funding crisis during the upcoming special session on redistricting.   We cannot wait another year. 

Thank you.

Task Force Issues Call to “Restore Trust” in Transportation Trust Fund

This week Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding issued a strongly worded report to the Maryland General Assembly, highlighting the urgent need for additional funds.  View the full report here

Included in the Appendices are several interesting charts and data tables, including one listing the nearly $1 billion that has been diverted from the Transportation Trust Fund and not paid back (mainly from the localities’ Highway User Fund accounts), and a menu of options for legislators to consider in coming up with the $800 million that is needed.

The Task Force is also asking legislators to maintain the current portions of both the sales tax and corporate income tax that are currently dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund.