FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 31, 2014
Contact: Cheryl Cort, Coalition for Smarter Growth
Tel: 202-675-0016 (X112)
Advocates urge Prince George’s County and state to target funds to transportation projects supporting smart growth
Prince George’s County and regional smart growth advocates sent a letter today to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker urging him to rethink transportation priorities to fulfill the County’s efforts to foster transit-oriented economic development.
This letter was sent in anticipation of Prince George’s County renewing its request for state funding for priority transportation projects in early 2014.
“Last year’s transportation funding bill passed in large part because Marylanders and Prince George’s residents want to see sustainable transportation solutions like the Purple Line that give alternatives to being stuck in traffic and clean up our air quality,” said Cheryl Cort, Policy Director at Coalition for Smarter Growth. “Now we’re concerned about how much of the money will go to projects that undermine those efforts.”
Last summer, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced new funding for transportation projects due to increased revenues from raising the gas tax last year. Advocacy groups working in Prince George’s have applauded state transportation funding pledged for transit, bicycling, and pedestrian infrastructure, but expressed concern over costly new highway capacity projects.
The concerns stem from the long list of costly highway capacity expansion projects identified by Prince George’s County as high priorities, and a state selection process that is done behind closed doors. Last summer, those fears were confirmed when Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced his list of projects for Prince George’s, including two major new road capacity projects costing $250 million combined.
“$150 million for an interchange at MD 4 and the Suitland Parkway is a massive public investment to support sprawling development,” said Karren Pope-Onwukwe, co-chair of Prince George’s Advocates for Community-based Transit. “This new interchange will draw resources away from Metro stations and inside the Beltway communities, where we should be focusing development.”
Advocates list their top priorities for the suburban Washington region as fully funding Maryland’s share for WMATA’s reinvestment plan (Momentum), building the Purple Line, and implementing the MARC Growth and Investment Plan. They also urged the state to expand investment in local road improvements to create new options for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, such as the multimodal road redesign of US 1 in College Park.
Given that Prince George’s County Executive Baker has made transit-oriented development a top priority, as has the state, advocates hope transportation investments will further that goal.
“We want to see Prince George’s County and the Governor ensure that all state-funded transportation projects support the excellent smart growth, climate protection, and clean water goals these administrations have set,” said Andrew Fellows, Clean Water Action.
Signatories to the letter included Coalition for Smarter Growth, Prince George’s Advocates for Community-based Transit, Clean Water Action, Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), and Bike Maryland.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies needed to make those communities flourish. To learn more, visit the Coalition’s website at www.smartergrowth.net