Transit and smart growth activists greeted leaders in Annapolis today with gravestones representing “the impending death” of transportation projects such as the Purple Line if the General Assembly does not come up with transportation funding in this legislative session.
Representatives from D.C.-based Coalition for Smarter Growth, which is spearheading the “Get Maryland Moving” campaign, Purple Line Now and others made the slushy trek to the State House to meet with about 20 legislators and put on the demonstration.
State Transportation officials say without a source for state transportation funding, matching federal dollars for the 16-mile Purple Line light rail that would connect Bethesda with Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and College Park, among other places, would be in jeopardy.
The Maryland Department of Transportation plans to halt design work on the $2.2 billion project if no funding is provided from the current General Assembly.
On Monday, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), House Speaker Michael Busch (D) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D) announced their plan for a new tax on gas wholesalers that is projected to mean a 2-cent hike in gas prices this July and another 7-cent hike next July. The plan is projected to bring in $3.4 billion over the next five years, which likely would not be able to fund for the Purple Line and the Red Line light rail project in Baltimore simultaneously.
“In spite of the weather, we couldn’t have chosen a better time to come to Annapolis. We’re thrilled to finally see unified action and leadership from Governor O’Malley, Speaker Busch, and President Miller, and will do all we can as residents to organize for a statewide solution that invests in real transportation solutions for all Marylanders”, said Robbyn Lewis, founder of the Red Line Now PAC, in a prepared statement.
According to polls, a clear majority of Marylanders are against any raise in gas prices. Republicans against the proposal have argued the transit projects the funds will help support do not benefit rural areas of the state.
Rendering via Maryland Transit Administration