The Sun weighed in on the most recent Maryland Department of Transportation “road show” and rightly lamented the state’s disinvestment from the Maryland Transit Administration and transit in Baltimore (“Maryland has a transportation revenue problem,” Sept. 30). In addition to budget cuts, Gov. Larry Hogan and his transportation agency have emptied the pipeline of potential future MTA projects. So when a new administration takes over in 2023 there won’t be any MTA projects to advance even if that governor is more amenable to transit. It will take the region years to recover from this type of scorched earth strategy.
The Sun calls for new ways to pay for transportation, but it’s not necessarily the case that we need more revenue. What we need is a change in priorities. According to the most recent short-range transportation plan from the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board, over the next four years our region will spend over $1 billion on expanding roads and highways. In contrast, we’ll spend a measly $2 million on expanding our transit system. We can’t spend 500 times more on widening highways then we do on transit and expect things to get better. Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn says that if 74% of Marylanders get to work by driving alone we should spend 74% of transportation dollars on roads and highways. The outcome of that type of thinking is that in 2018 Marylanders drove more miles per capita than any point in history. No wonder our traffic is snarled and the climate crisis is harming Marylanders.
We need to re-prioritize our spending to focus more on maintaining existing roads while expanding options for transit, biking and walking so that residents have actual choices on how to get around.
Eric Norton, Baltimore
The writer is director of policy and programs for the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance.
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