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Vision for Transportation is Nothing New, Not Political

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on February 04, 2006:

Senator Dyson I was asked this week why I held the announcement of the passage of Senate Bill 281 -- Commission to Study Southern Maryland Transportation Needs at the Waldorf commuter Park and Ride on Mattawoman/Beantown Road in Charles County.

First, it is a privilege for me to represent part of Charles County along with Calvert and St. Mary’s in the Maryland Senate, but I also held the announcemnt there because of its historical significance.

On July 14, 1989, I appeared in Waldorf with former Charles County Commissioner Nancy Sefton, former Director of the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland and others for the announcement of a $250,000 Congressional appropriation for a Southern Maryland Mass Transit alternatives study.

The findings of the study showed the feasibility of commuter rail in the Maryland Route 5 corridor from the proposed (now completed) Branch Avenue Metro Station to Waldorf and White Plains. Additional funding ($3 million) was secured in 1992 by Congressman Hoyer to move forward with the next phase of planning for commuter rail for Southern Maryland.

I was your Congressman at the time of the first announcement in 1989. We did not have any “Park and Rides” at that time.

Now there are 11 of them in Southern Maryland, 4 of which are bus served with the remaining seven serving as carpool lots. All together, Southern Maryland has a total of 1,248 spaces, representing 11% of the State total. The State Highway Administration (SHA) ownes and operates 94 park and rides statewide. Calvert County has seven lots, only three are served by busses. Both Charles and St. Mary’s Counties have two lots each, none of which are served by busses. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) provides eight commuter bus routes to and from Southern Maryland.

In 1989 a farm was located on what is now the Park and Ride where I made my announcement about Senate Bill 281. Since then, things have changed dramatically. Our roads have become massively congested. Gas prices are soaring and will rise even more dramatically if -- and sadly, it is very likely -- the situation in the Middle East does not stabilize, they will go to $3 per gallon or more. This will be a major hit in the pocketbook for working class families.

Because we have so many transportation needs in Southern Maryland --commuter rail being just one component of the study -- I introduced this bill to try to reach consensus on how to get you moving to where you need to go as fast as possible.

So, when I hear those proclaiming that Senate Bill 281 is just election year politics, let me remind you that this effort has been going on since 1989. Politics is not coming from me. It is the politicians who stood in the way of strong, visionary leadership on transportation issues that was exhibited by Congressman Hoyer, former Delegate Bill McCaffrey and many others like Gary Hodge and myself who knew back on that fateful day in 1989 that this would one day be a major priority for Southern Maryland commuters.

School Safety bill receives unanimous committee vote

Senate Bill 146, which I introduced again this year to pull together a blue ribbon commission of educators and education experts to examine ways to make our schools safer, passed the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee by a unanimous margin February 3. This vote came a day after the hearing on the bill and two days after a violent shooting incident occurred involving a student shooting at a school bus in Prince George’s County.

After I submitted reports to the committee from the St. Mary’s Today in which bus drivers were given a forum to express their fears about safety on their vehicles, an amendment was added to include a representative of school bus drivers on the commission. Our school bus drivers are the first to see our students in the morning after they leave their homes and the last to see them as they drop them off. They deserve the right to feel safe.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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