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Transportation Alliance eBlast: February 2012

http://cmtalliance.org/email/2012/02-february.html

With the 2012 Maryland General Assembly Legislative Session underway, one of the key policy issues under debate is funding for transportation projects - whether to fund them and how to pay for them. The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance fully supports legislation that will produce a significant increase in funding dedicated to the State's Transportation Trust Fund, and provide protection to the Trust Fund to insure that these funds are used solely for transportation purposes.

The Transportation Alliance has been unwavering in advocating for the implementation of - and funding for - a multimodal interconnected transportation system of highways and mass transit, particularly rail, that would ensure that all residents of Central Maryland have equitable access to jobs, housing, education and services. We have and will continue to inform the public about the challenges the State will face if funding for transportation is not increased. These challenges will impact the economic health of the entire state as well as the quality of life of all residents.

MARC Train We supported legislation introduced during the 2011 General Assembly to provide additional revenue for the Transportation Trust Fund, primarily through a 10-cent increase in the gas tax. Our President and CEO, Michele Whelley, was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission for Transportation Funding that recommended a 15-cent, phased in increase in the gas tax as the most effective way in the near-term to provide the level of funding required for the State to begin addressing sorely needed transportation funding needs. We applaud Governor O'Malley's leadership in advancing legislation that will provide a significant source of revenue for the Trust Fund - revenue that must be dedicated to transportation needs. We will carefully review and track the progress of the Governor's proposal as well as other legislation that will increase revenue to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund and protect those funds from being used for non-transportation purposes and continue our support for the legislation that achieves the goal of providing the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to move the State's transportation system forward.

Why Increase Taxes?

An increase in any tax will never be popular. After all, no one wants to pay more taxes for any purpose. But without a tax increase to support transportation, the ability of Marylanders to reach jobs, education, services and recreation will stay stuck in neutral if not lose ground. Consider these facts:
Even if all of the funds "borrowed" from the Trust Fund over the years are returned, there are insufficient funds for basic system preservation and maintenance. Roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, improvements to existing roads are delayed year after year, and commuter and light rail projects get deferred.
Without additional funding for transportation, the Baltimore-Washington region cannot move forward with the transportation projects that will address the ignoble distinction of being the Number 1 (Washington, DC) and Number 5 (Baltimore) worst congested regions in the country.
Without additional funding for transportation, access to employment opportunities and access to a trained workforce will continue to negatively impact the economic vitality of the State and transportation and access to a trained workforce will continue to be the top two concerns of employers considering whether to relocate or grow in Maryland.
Without efficient, reliable public transportation, particularly commuter and light rail, that provides access to equitable job opportunities, housing, education and services throughout the Baltimore/Washington region, we will continue to be at a competitive disadvantage to our peer regions.
695 Traffic The delays due to congestion, the additional cost of maintaining personal vehicles due to crumbling roadways, and the negative impact on economic growth due to lack of public transit options for those who are transit dependent by circumstance or by choice is far more costly than the average increase in the cost of gas. Each 2% sales tax increment would cost the average driver about $40 per year, far less than the estimated $1,500 average cost of wasted fuel and added vehicle maintenance resulting from traffic delays and added maintenance.
Without improvements to roads and expanded mass transportation options, the negative impact on residents in the lower socioeconomic strata due to lack of access to employment opportunity or increased cost of using a personal vehicle is significantly more than the actual out-of-pocket increase due to higher taxes.


"Let's Get to Work"

The Transportation Alliance's "Let's Get to Work" initiative, which would significantly expand MARC service, does not mitigate the critical need for increased funding for transportation. What "Let's Get to Work" can accomplish is an immediately implementable strategy to expand the MARC system - a system that serves 9 of the State's 24 jurisdictions in Central Maryland. This expansion can provide desperately needed transit options to most of the region's major employment centers and to Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) projects that are being planned or underway. Such an expansion will begin to address the larger challenges of our transportation system- challenges that will ultimately only be addressed through providing additional and dedicated revenue stream to the Transportation Trust Fund.

More detailed information about "Let's Get to Work," can be found by visiting http://www.cmtalliance.org/email/2012/01-january.html to view our January newsletter.

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