By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
12:25 AM EDT, May 11, 2011
Maryland ranks among the best states in measuring the results of transportation spending, according to a report released Wednesday by two important think tanks.
The state was one of five to be classified as "leading the way" in all categories rated by the Rockefeller Center and the Pew Center on the States. Minnesota, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia also had perfect scores.
The goal of the study, "Measuring Transportation Investments: The Road to Results," was to determine which states have the best tools in place to guide spending decisions and policy choices.
Maryland Transportation Secretary Beverley Swaim-Staley said Tuesday that it was "great to get recognition."
She said Maryland's high marks were partly a result of the unified department created by the General Assembly starting in the 1970s. She said Maryland's department is one of the few in the nation patterned after the U.S. Department of Transportation — with highways, transit, aviation and maritime agencies under one umbrella.
"When you have all the modes sort of in one place, you can have the big picture," she said.
The report ranked states in five categories: safety, jobs and commerce, mobility, access, environmental stewardship and infrastructure preservation.
The report singled out Maryland for praise for its commitment to transit-oriented development — fostering growth around rail and bus hubs. As an example, it pointed to the development planned at the light rail stop in Baltimore's Westport area.
According to the study, Maryland has advantages other states do not, including strong powers of eminent domain and a capital budget process that enables the state to deploy money across a range of transportation modes.
The report said Maryland stands out for the way it uses data on such matters as greenhouse gas emissions and wetlands preservation to measure the impact of transportation decisions on the environment.
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