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Hoyer announced that the House approved federal funds to upgrade major transportation routes and transit projects while addressing community development needs in Maryland's Fifth Congressional District. The funds, were allocated in the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill (HR 3074). The bill must now be reconciled with the Senate appropriations bill, before returning to the House for a final vote.
The bill includes the following funding specific to southern Maryland:
Southern Maryland Commuter Bus Initiative - $1,200,000 to construct Park and Ride lots at commuter bus service stations in Southern Maryland. Commuter bus service has grown rapidly in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's Counties over the past sixteen years. This ridership is expected to increase dramatically as the region experiences economic expansion and BRAC-related growth. These funds will be used to help accommodate the growing need for Commuter Bus service between Southern Maryland and our Nation's Capital. Since 2004 Hoyer has secured $11.5 million for the Southern Maryland Commuter Bus Initiative.
U.S. Route 301 - $500,000 to help address the transportation needs along U.S. Route 301 in Prince George's and Charles Counties. This highway is a major commuter thoroughfare from Southern Maryland to Washington, DC. Due to the economic growth in this region, U.S. 301 is often very congested and is in desperate need of upgrades. These funds will be used to help ease the delays along this vital transportation corridor.
Suitland Parkway and MD Route 4 - $2,500,000 for the design and construction of MD 4 and Suitland Parkway Interchange and for upgrades to Suitland Parkway. The Suitland Parkway Interchange project would expand a major corridor from Calvert County in Southern Maryland to Washington, D.C. and improve access to the military bases in Southern Maryland. It is a major connector to numerous federal government facilities and military installations. Funds would be used to acquire right-of-way for the construction of a roundabout diamond interchange and associated ramps connecting MD 4 and Suitland Parkway. Hoyer has secured nearly $6.4 million for this important project since 2004.
MD 237 - Pegg Road to MD 235 - $500,000 to upgrade and widen MD 237 - Pegg Road to MD 235, to a multi-lane highway near Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County. The current two-lane roadway is very narrow with periods of congestion. Chancellor's Run Road must be expanded to accommodate the local residential and commercial growth.
MD 246 - MD 235 to Saratoga Drive - $250,000 for streetscape construction of MD 246 - Great Mills Road from MD 235 to Saratoga Drive. Great Mills Road serves as a main artery through the community of Lexington Park in Saint Mary's County. The project will resurface the roadway, provide continuous sidewalk, improve drainage problems, consolidate and/or relocate the utilities, add medians from Coral Drive to FDR Boulevard (about 1250 ft), and enhance the landscaping of the town center.
MD Route 5 Pedestrian Overpass and River Center at St. Mary's College - $500,000 for two separate but related projects: (1) the final round of funding for the Route 5 pedestrian overpass. Hoyer secured $1 million towards this project in 2005. The St. Mary's College pedestrian overpass is needed to improve the safety of students crossing Route 5 - a major thoroughfare - from one side of campus to the other; and (2) the construction of a river boardwalk along the St. Mary's River and storm water runoff systems as part of the St. Mary's College River Center.
South Capitol Street Corridor: Design of Suitland Parkway/ MLK Ave. Interchange and Suitland Parkway/ I-295 Interchange - $500,000 for improvements to the South Capitol Street Corridor that will streamline traffic flow on one of Southern Maryland's key gateways into the Nation's Capital. This funding will be used specifically to redesign traffic movement at the interchanges at Suitland Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Suitland Parkway and I-295 to allow more efficient traffic flow in all directions. Redesigning these interchanges has become more urgent due to the increased traffic expected in the coming years from the U.S. Coast Guard's relocation to St. Elizabeth's, the District's new baseball stadium, and development along the Anacostia in Southeast, DC. Over the past six years, Hoyer has secured over $13.75 million through the Appropriations process towards improving transportation along the South Capitol Street Corridor.
Brick Chapel Reconstruction in Historic St. Mary's City - $400,000 for reconstruction of the 1667 chapel in Historic St. Mary's City, as a memorial to Maryland's pioneering experiment in religious freedom and the separation of church and state. This funding will be used to complete the final phase of the reconstruction.
Housing Partnership Network - $300,000 for a statewide initiative to develop rental and homeownership opportunities for low and moderate-income families throughout Maryland.
Hoyer also announced that the fiscal year 2008 Commerce, Science and Justice Appropriations bill, approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday, includes investments for law enforcement agencies and first responders in Maryland's Fifth Congressional District. The bill must now be reconciled with the Senate appropriations bill, before returning to the House for a final vote.
Funding specific to southern Maryland includes:
Prince George's County Interoperable Radio System - $1,900,000 to support the acquisition of Prince George's County's Interoperable Radio System. Prince George's County's proximity to the Nation's Capital and its role in supporting many critical federal agencies requires its first responders to effectively communicate with each other and with regional partners in the Washington area. The County's current communications system offers only very limited capacity for the its first responders to interoperate with each other and offers no capability to communicate with other jurisdictions in the region.
St. Mary's County Mobile Data Terminals - $786,000 to allow interpoerability and "real-time" access to records between law enforcement agencies. The funding will be used for the continued integration and completion of a Mobile Data Computer (MDC) project, which was partially funded through a COPS Technology grant in FY06.
Calvert County Mobile Command Unit - $800,000 to equip the Special Operations Team with a command station capability from any disaster location. Calvert County faces unique homeland security and public safety issues as it is home to the only nuclear power plant in Maryland and the largest liquid natural gas docking facility in the nation, and the Calvert County Sheriff's Office is the primary responding agency for both facilities. Although this office has a Special Operations Team specially trained in HAZMAT, it does not have a mobile command unit from which to operate once their resources are on-site. In fact, despite its proximity to the Nation's Capital and its location on the coastline of the Chesapeake Bay, Calvert County has no mobile command unit for any disaster, whether man-made or natural.
Finally, Hoyer announced that legislation funding the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations for FY 2008, which passed the House on July 19, contains funds that directly benefit the Southern Maryland region, including more than 900,000 for Southern Maryland education programs. The bill must now be reconciled with the Senate appropriations bill, before returning to the House for a final vote.
Funding specific to southern Maryland includes:
St. Mary's County Math and Science Academy - $500,000 to establish a Mathematics, Science, and Technology Academy as a specialized program of study at all three county high schools. Through the program, students with advanced skills and interests in these areas of study will receive instruction in state-of-the-art classrooms, research laboratories, and e-learning labs. The school system has been working with the Patuxent Partnership - a consortium of members and associates from industry - government, and academia, to develop mentorships for the students. The Academy will be affiliated with the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology.
College of Southern Maryland Nurse Training Program - $100,000 to increase nursing and allied healthcare resources and to procure the technology needed at all three campuses for hands-on learning methods. The Maryland Nursing Workforce Commission projects that 1500 additional registered nurses (RN) will be needed to enter the Maryland workforce annually for the next decade to meet replacement and increased RN needs. Due to limited resources, current nursing program enrollment is at capacity at the College of Southern Maryland, which will have a major impact in meeting future community and hospital workforce needs.
College of Southern Maryland, Partnership for the Advancement of Construction & Transportation Training - $300,000 to enhance and provide an array of courses and programs that meet the growing demand for construction and transportation workers in Southern Maryland. Southern Maryland is the fastest growing region in the state and is projected to grow by 33 percent by 2015. The tremendous growth in the residential and commercial building industries has resulted in an urgent workforce need. The workforce shortage in both the construction and transportation industries is reaching a critical point for employers in Southern Maryland, who depend on the College of Southern Maryland to attract and train workers throughout the region.
Best Buddies Maryland - $300,000 to support middle and high school chapters in Maryland. Founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989, Best Buddies is dedicated to fostering the social integration of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Best Buddies achieves this goal by organizing - and rigorously overseeing - volunteer-run chapters on middle school, high school, and college campuses. There are nine Best Buddies chapters in Southern Maryland.
The bill also provides billions of dollars for the No Child Left Behind programs--programs which many agree do little more than force schools to "teach to the test" and handsomely enrich the standardized testing industry. Hoyer boasts that the bill provides $1 billion over the President's request for No Child Left Behind programs.