New congestion report underscores Maryland’s need for more transportation funding

The most recent national traffic congestion report from the Texas Transportation Institute shows the recession and gas prices caused traffic congestion to ease slightly in the nation’s urban areas as a whole, but not in Baltimore and Maryland.

While the nationwide average for number of hours wasted by commuters as a result of highway congestion dropped from 37 hours to 36 hours annually, Baltimore area commuters wasted 44 hours in traffic congestion in 2007 – the same as in 2006. The number of wasted hours for Washington-area commuters increased from 59 to 62 during the same period, according to the report released on July 8.

“If you think, like many elected leaders in Annapolis, that Maryland doesn’t need to make strengthening its transportation funding a high priority, all you need to do is look at the numbers,” said Greater Baltimore Committee president and CEO Donald C. Fry.

The Baltimore region ranks as the 14th most congested area among 439 urban areas in the U.S. The Washington region ranks second.

“Traffic congestion persists as a crippling problem in Maryland. If we value mobility as a key element of our economy and quality of life, we need to get serious about strengthening our transit and highway resources,” Fry said.

Roadway congestion in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region costs Maryland more than $3 billion a year, including $1 billion in the Baltimore area, according to a 2007 Texas Transportation Institute report for the GBC and other business advocates.

The GBC is a leading advocate for construction of the Red Line, a proposed light rail line from Woodlawn to Bayview which will alleviate roadway traffic. Concerned over the state’s failure to strengthen stagnant revenue to the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, the GBC in January also launched a task force of business executives to develop revenue raising alternatives for consideration by the General Assembly.

The Greater Baltimore Committee has vigorously advocated for state leaders to take steps to close a more than $40 billion backlog of highway, transit, port and airport projects that are planned, but not yet funded for construction.

“This backlog is growing. Transportation funding is one of Maryland’s greatest economic development challenges,” said Fry.

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