The $27.8 million in seed money now making its way to Maryland to kick-start a high-speed Maglev rail line between Baltimore and Washington is a perfect example of the type of innovative investment the federal government should be making as our economy continues its recovery ("Maryland awarded $27.8 million grant for maglev," Nov. 8). Smart infrastructure investment is one of the best ways to boost our country's competitiveness and create jobs.
That's why I worked hard with the Maryland Congressional delegation to make sure this money came to Maryland. I wrote letters to my colleagues on the transportation funding committee and personally called Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and urged him to make the money available. The grant is a win-win for Maryland — it doesn't require a dime from the state or come at the expense of other important transportation projects. In fact, the project so far has been entirely privately-funded and these investors can now move forward with planning and engineering.
Commuters waste more time in traffic in the Maryland-D.C.-Virginia area than anywhere else in the country, according to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard. A typical commuter in our area spends an extra 82 hours behind the wheel in traffic and nearly $2,000 in excess gas and lost productivity every year — the highest among all U.S. cities reviewed. And gridlock is only getting worse. By 2040, intercity trips will increase by 40 percent.
While the Maglev project is not without its challenges, if successful, it could remove thousands of cars from I-95 every day and reduce the commute between Baltimore and Washington to as a little as 15 minutes. It could also create a domino-effect of economic development in Baltimore. If the train is extended to New York, studies suggest that 4.2 million more jobs could be available within a one-hour commute. I believe that high-speed rail is the way of the future and Maglev is our current opportunity. I support this effort and look forward to seeing this project finally take flight.
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Washington, D.C.
The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland's 2nd Congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.