ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced Friday he would commit an additional $381 million for highway and transit projects throughout the state.
Nearly 80 percent of the funds would go toward the construction of more than 30 highway and transit projects. The remaining 20 percent would be used for planning and engineering studies.
If the funds are approved this spring by the legislature, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties would receive nearly $160 million – almost 42 percent.
“The projects we add now will position Maryland to face the transportation challenges of the future,” said Glendening in a written statement.
GOP gubernatorial nominee Ellen Sauerbrey said the governor’s timing was suspect.
“Can you imagine, just within the last month before an election, he has suddenly developed a vision for transportation?” she said at an Annapolis press conference, at which Democratic primary candidate Terry McGuire endorsed her and pledged to work for her campaign.
The governor said four highway projects are priorities:
* replacement of the federally owned Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which spans the Potomac River to link Oxon Hill with Alexandria;
* completion of a key portion of state Route 32 near Fort Meade, linking Interstates 95 and 97 in Anne Arundel County;
* an upgrade and construction of new interchanges at congested intersections along Columbia Pike in Montgomery County; and
* continuation of funds to widen Interstate 695, the Baltimore Beltway, from the U.S. Route 1 bridge to state Route 144 in Baltimore County.
Glendening also said he wants to funnel $2 million to a study of a Metrorail expansion of the Blue Line, from Addison Road to Largo in Prince George’s County.
He said he wants to double current mass transit ridership throughout Maryland by the year 2020, to 1 million riders a day.
And he wants to implement a transit “Smart Card” that could be used on all mass transits systems throughout the state. With a “Smart Card,” riders would be able to pay to ride all forms of public transportation in Maryland with one card, instead of purchasing transfers or passes.
The additional funds proposed by the governor would bring the total spent on transportation projects in Maryland to $4.9 billion during fiscal years 1999-2004. A tax increase would not be necessary to fund the projects, Glendening said.
About eighty percent of the funds would be federal, coming from the federal gas tax already in place, said Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation. CNS reporter Andrew O’Day contributed to this report.