The Greater Baltimore Committee will host a Baltimore Regional Transportation Summit on June 16 to assess Maryland’s looming transportation infrastructure funding challenges and the potential effects of national transportation funding issues on the state, GBC president and CEO Donald C. Fry announced at the organization’s 2008 Annual Meeting on May 7.
The half-day morning event, to be held at the B&O Railroad Museum, will feature updates and discussions of transportation funding challenges from the federal perspective.
Federal funding for transportation is in crisis, according to a recent report from a federal commission on transportation policy. The report notes that federal transportation funding is close to being depleted and calculated that the price tag for fixing the nation’s ailing road and bridge system equates to a 40 cent per-gallon increase in the federal gas tax. Historically, the federal government funds approximately half of funding for state transportation projects.
The GBC is advocating at the federal level “to ensure the continuation of significant federal funding for transportation and securing federal funds for vital regional transportation projects,” said Fry.
Keynote speakers at the GBC Transportation summit will be Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and widely recognized transportation policy advocate; and U.S. Senator for Maryland Benjamin L. Cardin, who serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.
Panelists at the summit will include Anne P. Canby, president of the Surface Transportation Policy Project; Maryland Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari; and Robert Puentes, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program. The GBC’s Fry will moderate the panel discussion.
The June transportation summit is one of several steps announced by Fry that GBC is taking to raise awareness among Maryland business leaders and elected officials of the transportation funding challenge and to explore potential options for addressing it.
At the state level, the GBC estimates that at least $250 million per year in additional revenue is needed for Maryland’s Transportation Trust Fund to adequately address the state’s more than $40 billion backlog of needed, but unfunded, transportation projects.
The GBC will convene a blue-ribbon private-sector workgroup to examine potential alternative methods of funding transportation, “since the gas tax has fallen out of favor among state lawmakers,” Fry said.
Also, the GBC will study the feasibility of creating a regional transportation authority “as a more effective method of setting regional transportation priorities and providing supplemental funding for those projects,” he said.