OPINION: So. Md. Transportation Commission Has First Meeting

By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

Like many of you, I do a lot of traveling in my car. During the 90-Day General Assembly Session, I travel back and forth from Annapolis to my home in St. Mary’s County. And as I’ve wrote in the past, my new role as Vice Chairman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee as well as chairing numerous other committees, has me traveling back and forth to Annapolis in the interim quite a bit.

So I can easily tell you that I share your frustrations about the growing traffic problems in Southern Maryland.

So, I was pleased to join Senator Mac Middleton, Delegates John Bohanan, Sally Jameson and Peter Murphy as well as Charles County Commissioner Gary Hodge, Anne Arundel County Councilman Ed Reilly and Prince George’s County Council Member Marilyn Bland for the first meeting of the Commission to Study Southern Maryland Transportation Needs.

We met at the Jaycees Hall in Waldorf and all the meetings are open to the public.

This commission came about after successful legislation I was able to get passed during the beginning of the 2006 General Assembly Session. Senate Bill 281 (Chapter 14, 2006) established this commission which is made up of all members of the Southern Maryland Delegation, a member from the Anne Arundel County Council and Prince George’s County Council, Congressman Steny Hoyer, the Secretary of Transportation and Budget and Management or their designee and one county commissioner from Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s County.

The first meeting of the Commission was an unmitigated success. We elected a chair (Delegate Jameson) and Vice Chair (Delegate Bohanan).

We were also presented with a Southern Maryland Transportation Needs Assessment Preliminary Scope Summary which was prepared by the Tri-County Council. The TCC will provide technical direction and serve as lead advisor for this Commission.

There will be four meetings with the Commission and two series of public meetings. These meeting will provide general information and to receive feedback on transportation needs. I encourage everyone who is frustrated with transportation in our region to participate in these public meetings or provide me with their own feedback.

I am also pleased that Governor O’Malley’s administration is extremely supportive of the work of this Commission. At our first meeting, representatives of the Maryland Transit Authority and the State Highway Administration (which all fall under the umbrella of the Maryland Department of Transportation) were present.

Maryland Transportation Secretary John Porcari is one of the most highly regarded public officials in the State. He has shown great vision by asking earlier this year for each Southern Maryland County to submit their traffic needs.

I am pleased that one of Charles County’s top priorities is to “accelerate Mass Transit improvements in the U.S. 301/MD 5 corridor, coordinated with highway improvements including the identification of a transit alignment and preservation of right-of-way and the implementation of enhanced commuter bus service, followed by bus rapid transit and fixed-rail transit (light, commuter rail) from Waldorf-White Plains to the Branch Avenue Metro Station.

In Calvert County, their top need is something I’ve been pushing for years – completely funding project planning for a second span of the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge and Maryland Route 4.

The St. Mary’s County Commissioners have also shown great interest in the Thomas Johnson Bridge writing to Secretary Porcari that “it is imperative that the $3.5 million to complete project planning for the bridge be completed in the next two years” so we can move on to the construction of this traffic nightmare.

My vision in creating the Commission to Study Southern Maryland’s Transportation needs was to bring all five Southern Maryland counties (which include Southern Anne Arundel and Prince George’s since we are all connected) together to grapple and make massive improvements in the way we get around in our area.

After the first meeting of this Commission, I believe we are well on our way.

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