It’s been a good week for transportation modernization. Days after the Maryland General Assembly cleared a key hurdle for the Transit Safety and Investment Act by Del. Brooke Lierman and Sen. Cory McCray to increase transit maintenance funding in Maryland for MARC, light rail and local buses, the Biden administration has proposed, through its infrastructure bill, a bold departure from the failed federal transportation policies of the past 70 years (”Here’s what’s in Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan and how he plans to pay for it,” March 31).
For decades, transportation policy has focused disproportionately on new road and highway construction resulting in congestion and the hollowing out of cities and towns due to the rapacious demands for space from car-centric development. Transportation now accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions than any other sector in the economy. Too many politicians have waved away the problem by insisting electric cars will solve everything.
Electric cars will be part of the solution and the administration plan includes a massive $174 billion in charging stations. But electric cars are only as clean as their power source and do nothing to mitigate the impacts of car-centered sprawl. The more we rely on electric cars, the more demands we place on the power grid, increasing the challenge of de-carbonizing the grid.
The administration’s plan devotes nearly as much money, $165 billion, to local transit and inter-city rail, and more than it does to road maintenance. Baltimore, where at least one in four residents do not own a car, will benefit from this emphasis. The cleanest trip is one taken by foot and the plan would offer grants to cities that eliminate parking minimums and other zoning policies that make our communities less walkable. The policy also invests $20 billion to redesign our streets and roads which are dangerous by design and kill nearly 40,000 pedestrians and motorists annually.
We urge the Maryland congressional delegation not only to support the bill but to defend and preserve these visionary policies as the bill makes its way through the U.S. Congress.
Phil Lovegren and Andrew Dupuy, Baltimore
Add your voice: Respond to this piece or other Sun content by submitting your own letter.