Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Senator Frosh Proposes Anti-I-270 Letter

Senator Brian Frosh (D-16) is circulating a proposed Montgomery Senate Delegation letter calling for alternatives to the I-270 project.

Senator Frosh is not a member of the Senate's Budget and Taxation Committee. If he was, he might understand that transit and highway projects are financed by different federal agencies and that money does not transfer dollar-for-dollar from one mode to the other. Furthermore, let's put aside the merits - or demerits - of the I-270 project for a moment. Why would we be daft enough to even hint to the state that we don't want a big transportation project?

Following is the text of the letter. We do not yet know who, if anyone, has agreed to sign it.

The Honorable Martin O’Malley
The State House
Annapolis, Maryland 21401

Dear Gov. O'Malley:

Your administration identified an important priority for Maryland by setting the goal of a substantial increase in transit ridership. New transit lines will remove traffic from our congested highways, improving the environment while they give harried commuters more time with their families. Transit also opens the door for economic progress; existing stations are rare bright spots in the current collapse of construction activity, and in the future transit lines can help revitalize our older urban centers.

The Department of Transportation's current I-270 Corridor Study may offer a valuable opportunity for progress toward the objective of more effective transit. The I-270 corridor has been a center of both economic growth and traffic congestion, and MDOT is evaluating options for relieving the congestion. To date, all options evaluated in this study have devoted well over two-thirds of projected construction funding to road capacity expansion. The Action Committee for Transit has developed the attached alternative, comparable in cost, that consists entirely of transit improvements.

The large transportation investments proposed along I-270 will take years to implement, and they will shape the development of the corridor for decades. There is time to decide carefully and wisely. We request that you ask MDOT to add the all-transit alternative to this study. After a complete range of options is evaluated, policy-makers and the public will be able to choose the solutions that are best for our communities, our economy, and our environment.