ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced Thursday that he will add $300 million to the state’s six-year $5.1 billion transportation budget without raising the gasoline tax.
He called the new plan “a program that does make a difference in the life of Marylanders.”
The governor said that the money will come from several areas, including:
– Decreasing operating and administrative costs at the Maryland Department of Transportation headquarters and elsewhere in state government.
– Eliminating studies of transportation projects unlikely to be done.
– Growth in the state economy, with resulting increases in tax revenue.
– Early retirement of state employees, particularly 422 Department of Transportation employees who took advantage of the program enacted during last year’s General Assembly session.
– A $92 million increase in federal transportation funding.
“I am particularly pleased to be able to stand here and do this today,” Glendening told reporters, “because since January 1995, when I came in [to this office], I have been advised repeatedly that we would need a gas tax.
“Because of good fiscal management we do not need that increase.”
Glendening said that the additional transportation funds will “bring to fruition… projects that local residents and elected officials have wanted for a long time.”
Among them, the governor said, are construction of a Salisbury bypass on U.S. Route 50 in Wicomico County, the Hickory bypass on U.S. Route 1 in Harford County and the Dulaney Valley and Providence Road bridges in Baltimore County, which are the next phase in widening the Baltimore Beltway.
He has earmarked $10 million for statewide road resurfacing and bridge rehabilitation, calling it “good public policy and good for job creation.”
Glendening noted that sound roads and transportation systems are key reasons for major firms to relocate in Maryland.
The Navy, for example, is moving 5,000 new civilian jobs to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station from base closings around the country. To cope with the influx, Glendening has budgeted an additional $21 million for buying right of ways and constructing a segment of Maryland Route 235 in St. Mary’s County.
Replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge remains a priority. Glendening called the bridge “the neck of the funnel for Interstate 95 traffic.”
He emphatically opposed suggestions that the new bridge become a toll facility, citing figures showing 175,000 vehicles a day cross the bridge now, with projections of up to 300,000 daily trips by 2020.
Collecting tolls from so many vehicles, said the governor, “would create the biggest traffic jam on the entire East Coast.”
Continuing projects include dredging for the Port of Baltimore and expanding Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Glendening called the two facilities our “international gateways” and essential to Maryland’s place in the global marketplace. “Every one of these projects,” the governor said, “will advance our overall vision for the state.” -30-