The Daily Record: Considering transit, again

The Greater Baltimore Committee’s recent Transportation Summit once again placed a spotlight on the need for the Baltimore area to invest in infrastructure critical to the region’s economic progress. The program featured a panel of speakers providing national, state and regional perspectives. The larger message was to call for bold action. But there was also recognition of the pragmatism associated with making incremental progress.

The first speaker intimated as much. Rodney E. Slater, U.S. secretary of transportation in the Clinton administration, starting with the national outlook, referred to the “bickering” that allows other nations to overtake us. (Think high-speed intercity trains in Europe and Asia). Our “political impasse” puts us in a “very threatening position.”

Slater suggested that when we listened later in the panel about local initiatives, we would be hearing a lot about system preservation, that is, spending billions to maintain the roads, bridges and other facilities that we already have.

Those local initiatives were presented by Michael B. Kelly, executive director at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, and Kevin B. Quinn, administrator of the Maryland Transportation Administration.

The BMC, serving as staff to the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board, is now in the process of developing the region’s long-range plan for all forms of surface transportation. And that plan, Maximize2045, reveals that emphasis on system preservation cited by Slater.

Referring to the financial plan for transportation investments to be made from 2024 to 2045, $37 billion is estimated for operating the system, $16 billion for maintaining the system and $12 billion, or just 18.5% of the total, for building and expanding the network of roadways, bridges and myriad transit facilities.

To put matters in perspective, constructing just a new four-lane highway in an urban area costs $8 million to $10 million per mile.

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Source: The Daily Record