- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Regarding The Enterprise’s June 1 editorial, “Transportation remains stuck at red light,” three things come to mind. First, for too long governmental leaders have been asleep at the wheel neglecting our transportation interests. Second, despite its obvious importance, our most vital transportation project is not a replacement for the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge. Third, the highest priority now must shift to the needs of Southern Maryland constituents commuting to Washington, D.C.
Local officials need to recognize the economic engine residents provide to county budgets who endure multihour commutes to jobs in or near the District. Jurisdictions within the Baltimore to Montgomery County corridor enjoy advantages unavailable to Southern Maryland commuters, including modern interstates, HOV express lanes, sophisticated bus systems, subways, light rail and commuter trains.
Politicians north of us always say there is no money in the state’s infrastructure budgets for our critical needs, yet they received:
ź $2.6 billion for their Intercounty Connector between Gaithersburg and Laurel.
ź Nearly $800 million (so far) for I-95 improvements northeast of Baltimore.
Now they are lobbying hard for:
ź $1.93 billion to build the dubious Purple Line light rail unnecessarily connecting New Carrollton and College Park with Silver Spring and Bethesda that virtually no one from Chevy Chase wants.
ź $828 million for the proposed Corridor Cities Transitway instituting a Bus Rapid Transit system with expensive new buses requiring the construction of 16 stations and a new parkway between the Shady Grove Metro station and Clarksburg.
ź Baltimore’s staggering demand of $2.2 billion for a new Red Line light rail extension from east Baltimore to Woodlawn. This for a city the U.S. Census Bureau states since 1990 lost nearly 17 percent of its population.
ź Dozens of additional transportation boondoggles proving how they could care less about our desperate situation.
Why has Southern Maryland never received any regional transportation solutions for our skyrocketing population?
If you commute to the District from Southern Maryland you are forced to either drive, join scarce vanpools or use the overwhelmed MTA commuter buses — a nightmarish journey where three limited options converge on low-capacity, crumbling roads in bumper-to-bumper traffic stuck at red lights.
Why was Metrorail’s Green Line prevented from reaching beyond the Branch Avenue station in Marlow Heights, when Metro builds in Northern Virginia a $7 billion Silver Line extension all the way to Dulles Airport?
Why does Southern Maryland have no MARC commuter trains, while service has been offered for decades at three stations in West Virginia benefiting residents there and from northwestern Virginia?
Why did the MTA add additional bus routes connecting MARC stations and Metrorail encouraging commuters to drive on the underutilized Intercounty Connector white elephant, while cutting the convenient 913 bus route from Waldorf to Suitland?
Why is $112 million dedicated to transforming one MARC train station into a hub with the Silver Spring Metrorail stop, when MTA refuses to provide in Charlotte Hall even an affordable bus shelter to shield from the weather hundreds of commuters on routes 905, 903 and 909?
Why were tolls raised at the Gov. Harry W. Nice Bridge and similar facilities statewide covering cost overruns and servicing debt ironically for the fee-generating Intercounty Connector and other structures not in our area, when I-270 from Frederick to the Beltway, and I-95 between Baltimore and the District, continue to charge no tolls that could collect millions of dollars for our transportation needs here?
How much longer do we have to wait before proposed solutions going back to the 1960s as outlined in countless studies finally get implemented? Tens of thousands of essential workers from Southern Maryland have waited patiently after hearing empty promises from authorities with almost nothing being done.
For example: ź Failing to widen to three lanes completely Route 4 in northern Calvert County into Prince George’s County; and Route 5/301 in Brandywine.
ź Shelving the proposed high-speed commuter ferry service on the Potomac River.
ź Never constructing a Southern Maryland MARC commuter rail service.
ź Refusing to take serious action on the 2009 Southern Maryland Transportation Needs Assessment recommendations.
From 2007 to 2010, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation states a net migration of nearly 31,000 state residents including Southern Marylanders left for other states. Perhaps heavy taxes on top of no transportation solutions drove them out.
Do the power brokers in the District, Annapolis, Baltimore and Rockville believe our insufficient transportation systems can handle a Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant emergency evacuation?
Our challenge now is to implement effective strategies that are fiscally responsible.
Timothy Pugh, Leonardtown