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baltimoresun.com

It's unfair that all the state's big transportation projects go to the Washington suburbs

3:00 PM EDT, July 10, 2013

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Gov. Martin O'Malley's announcement of $650 million for transportation projects in the Washington suburbs is welcome news for some Marylanders, but it also highlights serious concerns about how new gas tax money is allocated ("O'Malley announces nearly $650M for county transportation improvements," July 9).

Every major state transportation project since the mid-1990s has gone to the Washington region. Just the four largest projects in that period — the Inter-County Connector, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and completion of the Metro system's Blue and Green lines — total over $5 billion.

When will Baltimore area commuters and taxpayers receive their rightful share of state transportation money?

Recently funded Baltimore projects are comparatively small in terms of both cost and impact on congestion. But dozens of shovel-ready projects exist, ranging from new MARC stations to finally finishing the decades-long rebuilding of the I-695 Beltway.

Instead, these projects languish for lack of funding as Baltimore commuters pay into a system that doesn't return their fair share. To add insult to injury, commuters pay again by enduring endless construction for whatever does get built because the state relies on phasing in the work rather than fully funding entire projects that would deliver meaningful mobility improvements.

The Baltimore region has waited patiently for the past two decades as big ticket projects went to the Washington suburbs. It's time that Baltimore area leaders and residents demand a fair share of gas tax revenue and serious investment in our transportation system.

Harry M. Seidman, Baltimore