Special Regional Transportation Summit

Elected officials, policy makers and business leaders from across Maryland’s Baltimore-Washington Region—including County Executives Isiah Leggett of Montgomery, Ken Ulman of Howard, Rushern Baker of Prince George’s and President Candice Quinn Kelly of the Charles County Commission—will meet in Annapolis from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12, for a Maryland Transportation Summit that will emphasize the urgent need for investment in transportation projects statewide.

Montgomery Council members George Leventhal and Roger Berliner and Maryland Delegate Brian Feldman have led the organization of the summit, which will be held in the Montgomery County Delegation Room (Room 170) of the Lowe House Office Building at 6 Bladen St. in Annapolis.

The summit will bring together a variety of stakeholders from the Baltimore-Washington Region who are united on the need to increase transportation funding. Among the groups that will be represented are chambers of commerce, boards of trade, labor, elected officials and community organizations. The coalition has strong participation from Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Charles, Baltimore City and other jurisdictions.

The four county leaders are scheduled to participate in a discussion at 11 a.m. They will speak to the urgency of increasing transportation funding in 2013 and what is at stake in their communities if increased funding is not secured.

“The goal of the summit is to establish what will happen if the investment in transportation is not made in our state and to clearly make the link between investment in transportation and creation of jobs,” said Council member Leventhal, who has been a strong proponent of building the Purple Line, a proposed 16-mile, east-west, light rail that will operate between Bethesda in Montgomery County and New Carrollton in Prince George’s County. It would connect to four branches of the Metro system.

The summit will emphasize that by mid-2013 the State must submit finalized financial plans showing how it intends to pay for projects such as the Red Line extension of the Baltimore Metrorail system and the Purple Line in order to be eligible for federal funding. Absent a revenue increase or federal aid, it is unlikely that the transit lines can be constructed. Preliminary funding for those projects runs out in 2014.

The Purple Line and Red Line will be mentioned among transportation projects that are at risk, but they will not be the focus of the summit.

“There are few things more important to our county’s economic health than maintaining and expanding our transportation infrastructure, particularly new transit options that can help take cars off the road and connect employment hubs with our work force,” said Council member Berliner, who chairs the Montgomery Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee. “Elected officials, community leaders, stakeholder groups and transportation advocates have spoken out regarding the need for dedicated transportation funding. The goal of this summit is to bring those voices together to discuss viable options for moving our County and our State forward.”

Warren Deschenaux and Jonathan Martin of the Office of Policy Analysis in the Maryland General Assembly’s Department of Legislative Services are scheduled to offer a review of the financing options available to Maryland and speak to the dire state of the transportation trust fund to support new infrastructure and maintain existing infrastructure.

Gerrit Knaap from the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland will speak to the link between investment in transportation and the creation of jobs. He also will speak about how economic development across the state if the investment in transportation is not made.

Presentations during the summit will address the various financing options that are available to increase transportation funding. The options include: tax and fee increases (gas tax, vehicle registration and titling fees), public-private partnerships, Value Capture (TIFs, special taxing districts) and tolling.

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