Good stuff, including from former Loudoun County Supervisor Andrea McGimsey (now moved on to much bigger/better things as Senior Director, Global Warming Solutions at Environment America – congratulations!). – Lowell
Smart growth, environmental groups release ‘Blueprint’ for transportation ahead of Northern Virginia Transportation Authority plan
Blueprint for Better Transportation provides framework for multi-modal transportation and stronger communities
ARLINGTON, Virginia – More than 10 smart growth and environmental groups from around the region released a plan for expanding transportation choices and creating better communities in northern Virginia on Wednesday. The Blueprint for Better Transportation in Northern Virginia is a comprehensive recommendation for regional transportation planning focused on reducing the amount residents must drive. If implemented, the Blueprint would use existing transportation funds to invest in stronger economies, healthier communities and cleaner air and water – while also mitigating traffic congestion.
The Blueprint provides a framework and list of transportation projects that will create mixed-use, walkable, bikeable, transit-oriented communities throughout the region. The plan focuses on combining transit-oriented development with improved access to regional transit so that more people can walk, bicycle and drive to transit for daily trips.
“As the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority decides how to spend over a billion dollars in transportation funds during the next six years, it is critical that we invest in projects that are equitable, provide multiple benefits, and more travel choices for residents and commuters,” Karen Campblin, Transportation and Smart Growth Chair of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said.
Groups endorsing the Blueprint include the Sierra Club, Environment Virginia, the Climate Reality Project: Northern VA Chapter, the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, Network NoVA, Friends of Accotink, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Audubon Naturalist Society, the Coalition for Smarter Growth and the Prince William Conservation Alliance.
“How and where we build our communities is so important to reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector, which is now the #1 driver of global warming. If people can safely walk, bicycle, and reach mass transit, they have the freedom to choose a carbon-free way to go about their days,” Andrea McGimsey, Senior Director, Global Warming Solutions, Environment America said.
Many of the projects in the Blueprint are relatively inexpensive improvements such as sidewalk, bike, trail and bus connections that knit together more walkable, transit-oriented communities. Model communities are emerging in areas as diverse as Tysons, Potomac Yard in Alexandria, Ashburn Station in Loudoun and Woodbridge, Manassas and Manassas Park in Prince William. These projects have multiple benefits, including expanded transportation choices, reduced pollution from motor vehicles, and connecting vibrant communities that employers and employees are increasingly seeking. Reports on walkable urban places by Chris Leinberger and his team at George Washington University have documented the economic and fiscal benefits of mixed-use centers.
“Our plan focuses on improving options for Prince William and Manassas commuters — particularly through improvements to VRE and bus service, fixing some road bottlenecks, and promoting walkable, transit-oriented communities in Woodbridge, Manassas and Manassas Park,” Charlie Grymes, Chair of Prince William Conservation Alliance, said.
“For Loudoun County, our plan prioritizes efficiency and connectivity. This is accomplished by a focus on transit-oriented development, the creation of a parallel local road network, improving east-west transit commuting, and increasing our bicycle-pedestrian options,” Gem Bingol of The Piedmont Environmental Council said.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s long-range transportation plan identified $43 billion in potential transportation projects during the next 25 years, far beyond foreseeable revenues. That financially unconstrained plan would fuel more long-distance driving and make little progress toward a more sustainable future for our region. The shortcomings of the plan demonstrate the need for a new direction in transportation that complements smart land uses so that residents and commuters have choices in how they get around.
“Every resident who lives or works in a mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-oriented community has the opportunity to drive less, and use other modes, and each contributes to a regional transportation solution,” Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, said. “NVTA’s $43 billion long-range plan fails to focus on supporting more sustainable land use and therefore will not solve our traffic problems. Our plan provides sensible, cost-effective investments that will not only mitigate traffic congestion but also create communities where people want to live and work, and expand local governments’ tax bases.”
Information on the Blueprint for Better Transportation in Northern Virginia can be found at http://vasierra.club/blueprint
The blueprint itself can be read here: http://vasierraclub.org/
Read the original article here.
The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation Thursday providing dedicated state funding for Metro of $167 million per year. With this action, regional dedicated funding for Metro is a big step closer to reality.
The Maryland Metro/Transit Funding Act (SB 277/HB 372) was introduced by Senator Brian Feldman and Delegates Marc Korman and Erek Barron. The legislation establishes a dedicated, permanent allocation to Metro of $167 million per year from the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund. The bill passed the Senate unanimously, and the House on a bipartisan basis.
The funding is dependent on Virginia and DC establishing their own dedicated funding streams of $154 million and $178 million, respectively. Last month, Virginia passed their $154 million share of dedicated funding, and the District has signaled its intent to pass legislation to fund their share of $178 million. With Maryland’s commitment to $167 million nearly finalized, the three jurisdictions are poised to meet Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s request for an additional $500 million annually for needed capital improvements.
This is welcome news for regional Metro advocates — including many that work on transportation and environmental issues — that have been pushing for dedicated funding for years. The MetroNow Coalition, including the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Federal City Council, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Greater Washington Partnership, and Greater Greater Washington, worked with legislators in both Richmond and Annapolis to move the respective bills in the right direction.
The new dedicated funding from Maryland will be for capital costs, as requested by Metro, and it will be made in addition to current yearly capital allocations to Metro from the state. The bill requires the existing capital contribution to increase at 3% annually over the previous year’s amount to ensure that overall Metro capital funding from the state does not lapse over time.
The new dedicated funding comes with several requirements. In addition to being dependent on Virginia and DC paying their respective shares, the bill also requires WMATA to provide a continuous stream of data and information to Maryland, including giving Maryland strict oversight of any modified audit opinions received by WMATA.
While primarily a WMATA bill, the legislation was amended to include three years of additional funding for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and some new requirements for that agency. The additional funding is in response to the significant issues the Baltimore City Metro system is currently facing, and amounts to an extra $60 million per year for three years in both operating and capital.
The legislation was the result of of regional, bicameral, and bipartisan cooperation. Governor Larry Hogan last fall had proposed an additional allocation of $125 million to WMATA for four years only, and the legislation passed yesterday originally started at that number. However, after negotiations with the administration, the legislature was able to increase the amount to Maryland’s full $167 million share with the bill still having the support of the Governor.
With yesterday’s vote, the legislation now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
As the funding bill nears signing, an accompanying bill by the same legislators to enhance WMATA oversight is also close to passage. While WMATA needs more funding, money alone will not solve its challenges. The provisions within the funding bill and accompanying legislation that impose a greater level of scrutiny on WMATA are important measures to ensure that this regional investment is well managed.
With the renewal of federal capital funding for Metro through the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 in jeopardy, the achievement of regional consensus to reach $500 million absent federal funding became more important. Since WMATA’s formation in 1967, the region has never been closer to achieving dedicated funding for Metro. Thanks to the hard work of advocates and lawmakers, WMATA may soon have what it has lacked for over 50 years.
Photo courtesy of Joe Flood. Read the original article here.
Affordable housing is hot topic in the District – because it is increasingly unaffordable for many people to live here. The Forest Hills neighborhood has unrealized opportunities to increase housing density and affordability through Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs: small apartments inside a home or in a space outside the main house.
Some neighbors already have converted basements, attics, garages and other spaces into rental units. And the updated zoning code makes this easier by allowing such units as “matter of right.” No more time-consuming hearings. Specific information can be found in the Zoning Handbook.
The National Building Museum is hosted a talk Monday night on how ADUs can make room for more housing in DC. The moderator was Harriet Tregoning, former head of DC Office of Planning, with featured speakers Cheryl Cort, Policy Director of Coalition for Smarter Growth, architect Jennifer Harty and Aakash Thakkar, an ADU homeowner. If you could’t make this, check out this post on ADUs at GreaterGreaterWashington.org.
And on the broader topic of housing affordability in the District, the WAMU’s “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” discussed the latest research from the D.C. Policy Center Monday (listen here). The study makes the case for more development and density in upper Northwest DC, and says it’s possible to add housing while still preserving neighborhood character. Read WAMU’s report on the study.
Do you have an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or rent one? Tell us about it.
Richard Florida, a best-selling author and urban-studies scholar, teaches in Toronto, one of 20 contenders for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters.
But since the competition for Amazon HQ2 began last fall, “I’ve predicted that the D.C. area would be the winner,” says Florida, a former professor at George Mason University. “The reason is that the metro area has one of the highest concentrations of knowledge workers, educated workers, creative workers on the planet. I don’t know if it’s going to go to Northern Virginia, Maryland or D.C. but I clearly think it’s going to head in your direction.”
Florida is widely known for his ideas about the “creative class.” Under that concept, metro areas need to attract large numbers of highly skilled and talented workers to stimulate economic development.
The second Amazon headquarters is expected to create 50,000 jobs during the next 15 to 17 years. Stephen Moret, president and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, describes the project as the “economic prize of the century.” The Washington, D.C., metro area is the only one to have three contenders still in the running for HQ2: the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Md. The Washington Post reported that Amazon officials toured the Washington area in early March.
Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, believes Northern Virginia’s workforce talent is crucial to its efforts to beat out the 19 other contenders. “Our area has the most educated workforce in the United States,” he says.
Corcoran praises what is “maybe the greatest community college system in the United States,” adding that Northern VirginiCommunity College and George Mason University have strong cybersecurity programs.
According to The Washington Post, Amazon is considering these Northern Virginia locations for its headquarters:
Property on Fairfax/Loudoun county line (now occupied by the Center for Innovative Technology) near Washington Dulles International Airport; The Crystal City/Potomac Yard area; and Potomac Shores and Innovation Park in Prince William County.
Virginia has not released information about any possible incentives being offered to Amazon. District of Columbia officials have said they are willing to offer significant tax breaks but have not released any details. Maryland, on the other hand, is promising a $5 billion incentive package in its bid.
The Achilles’ heel The contrasting approaches of the three Washington-area contenders point to what Florida sees as their Achilles’ heel, a lack of collaboration. “That does not exist, which is reflected in the fact that there are three bids,” Florida says. “The region has to grow up and figure out how to work together.”
That lack of cooperation has contributed to the region’s “gridlock nightmare,” Florida says. “If you have to get anywhere in a car, a metro area starts to break down when you have 5 or 6 million people. You’ve got to grow differently and add density, like London or New York. This is not a place that is going to grow any more based on cars.”
Corcoran, however, argues that Northern Virginia “has great transportation, but not perfect transportation … That’s the result of the dynamic economy because people want to be there and are going places. Traffic is an indication of prosperity.”
Virginia has made significant investments in transportation in Northern Virginia in the past decade and continues to invest, he says, with new HOT lanes and improvements to Interstates 66 and 95 and Routes 7 and 28. “Everything that can be fixed is being fixed or improved.”
The new Silver Line extension of the Metrorail transit system and more regional buses also are signs of the region’s commitment to untangling the area’s transportation system, Corcoran says. “This area doesn’t have to say we will invest in mass transportation for Amazon; we’ve done it.”
But delays, safety concerns and a drop in ridership continue to plague the subway system. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority says it needs an annual $500 million infusion of capital funding from Virginia, Maryland and the District. In March, the Virginia General Assembly approved $154 million in new permanent funding for Metro, By late March, Maryland and the District had approved similar funding.
Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, says three jurisdictions have shown a commitment to making improvements.
“We are seeing positive movement. We are finding new dedicated funding,” Schwartz says. “They have been talking to each other. Yes, indeed, they are working closely together. I think that has been noted by Amazon” and by other corporations that have chosen to move into the area, such as Nestlé, which recently moved its U.S. headquarters to Rosslyn.
The subway system also remains a key part of the region’s commitment to be bike and pedestrian friendly, Schwartz says, an initiative that makes it attractive to a millennial workforce.
Room to build Northern Virginia still offers plenty of room to build, for office space and housing, says CoStar Group market analyst Omeed Naderi. He points to Tysons and Reston as two of the most active housing development areas.
Julian Spiker, also a market analyst at CoStar, says there’s also room for Amazon in the Crystal City area. “Crystal City has a lot of older office space. JBG Smith owns a lot of space and has already committed to revitalization whether or not Amazon moves there. It’s a good opportunity. One has what the other needs.”
Plus, the area will have a new Metro stop at Potomac Yard, which is expected to open in 2021.
The extension of the Silver Line Metro along the Dulles corridor, with stations from Reston Town Center to Ashburn expected to open in 2020, is perfectly timed, says Dee Owens, an associate broker with RE/MAX Gateway in Virginia. “Amazon can pull talent from farther out.”
Owens worked in real estate in Seattle during the Amazon boom and calls the experience “wonderful preparation for what I hope is going to come to us.”
One lesson she learned is that Northern Virginia will need investors in rental properties. Some of those 50,000 jobs Amazon is promising will be high paying, Owens says, “but a lot will be jobs for people right out of college, and they’ll want to rent at first.”
Seattle built a satellite campus, she notes, which could be good news for Prince William County. “A satellite would make good business sense. You could pull in people from Gainesville and Haymarket. People will travel up to an hour to a job. If you pay enough they will go.”
If not NoVa? If Amazon picks Maryland or the District for its headquarters, Northern Virginia still will reap plenty of rewards, Florida says, because “a ton of residents will choose to live in Northern Virginia. There will be benefits without some of the cost. If I were Northern Virginia, I’d be hoping for one of the others and get the spillover benefits.”
Corcoran agrees that Northern Virginia will benefit if one of its neighbors is the winner.
In fact, he sees great possibilities if any one of the three areas takes the prize. Those possibilities include extending the Purple Line light rail from Maryland into Virginia or adding another bridge across the Potomac River.
“That could be the impetus to improved transportation cooperation. Right now, that stops at the river,” he says. “Maybe it would force a conversation and evaluation to improve regional mobility.”
Read the original article here.
The Bi-County Parkway is effectively off the table thanks to relentless community opposition to plans to build a connector road between Prince William and Loudoun — but transportation planners across Northern Virginia are still brainstorming how exactly they might link the two rapidly growing counties.
The issue has mostly faded from the public eye, particularly after the Prince William Board of County Supervisors removed the project, which would extend Va. 234 to connect to U.S. 50, from its comprehensive plan two years ago. Yet, at a panel of transportation-focused policymakers and advocates convened by Prince William’s “Committee of 100” in Manassas on Thursday, there was broad agreement that officials need to do something to ease north-south travel between Loudoun and Prince William, even if it doesn’t take the form of the infamous Bi-County Parkway.
“We need the connectivity, so if the answer is no Bi-County Parkway, we need some other way to make that connection,” said county Supervisor Marty Nohe, R-Coles, and the chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. “It’s a political hurdle, though.”
Nohe expects that the widening of Interstate 66 outside the Beltway to Gainesville will help some in that regard, as will the bypass for Va. 28 that his NVTA is studying right now. He hopes that improvements to Va. 28 will help ease access to Dulles International Airport, a key factor for Bi-County Parkway boosters. But he still believes transportation planners need to consider “another option” for people looking to get to Loudoun.
“We’ve decided the Bi-County Parkway is not going to be that option, so now there’s an effort to identify a new alternative,” Nohe said. “Later this year, we’ll have an update to the transportation section of our comprehensive plan, and I expect then we’ll have some type of new northsouth connectivity to supplant the Bi-County Parkway on the table.”
Stewart Schwartz, the executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth and a longtime Bi-County Parkway critic, praised that approach, noting that he sees a variety of potential options on the table. In particular, he thinks Prince William could mirror Loudoun’s decision to use roundabouts to link U.S. 15 and U.S. 50 by constructing roundabouts where Pageland Lane intersects with U.S. 29 and Va. 234 in Gainesville.
“That way, you have the ability to rotate around if you’re an existing resident, and not have anyone else join you on the roads,” Schwartz said. “The bottom line is, the Bi-County Parkway is not the silver bullet it’s advertised to be. There are other options.”
Not everyone around Northern Virginia is so sure. Not only has Supervisors’ Chairman Corey Stewart, a Republican, repeatedly insisted that the project could be revived, but the project’s original proponents in the region remain adamant that it’s best solution for the two counties.
“It’s an absolutely essential and obvious need,” said David Birtwistle, chief executive officer of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance. “Route 28 obviously needs to be widened, but it’s never going to be enough to meet demand…It makes no sense to move all north-south traffic through Manassas, and it makes all the sense in the world to move it around the city to the west.”
Birtwistle is still convinced that the absence of the road is constricting the county’s access to Dulles, making Prince William less attractive to businesses and even hampering the growth of George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus outside Manassas. He expects that the county may well be able to make road improvements in the area, but he believes they are no replacement for a major new highway.
“It puts the county at a disadvantage when it comes to moving away from being a 21 century bedroom community,” Birtwistle said.
Schwartz, however, maintains that the Bi-County Parkway would become an “access point for new development” in western Prince William and Loudoun, forever marking the end to rural areas like the “Rural Crescent.”
“It’s just going to mean that tens of thousands of drivers join you on the roads,” Schwartz said. “You can’t build your way out of this.”
Schwartz’s group has long advocated for more public transit options in the region, and the development of walkable communities split between residential and commercial spaces known as “mixed-use developments” as a surer solution for the region’s transportation woes.
He believes the city of Manassas is already doing a “great job” of creating that sort of community, and he feels officials have “waited far too long” to embrace the same sort of ethos in Woodbridge. Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, has championed the idea some in the past, but Schwartz is eager to see Prince William leaders embrace the area as “the gateway to the rest of the county.”
“If we’re already doing all our shopping on Amazon, why not re-develop these parking lots in shopping centers you’ve built to make more walkable communities?” Schwartz said. “You’ve already paved over all the land and cut down the trees. Why not use them?”
ANNAPOLIS — Metro, union, nonprofit and business leaders all spoke in one accord Tuesday, urging Maryland lawmakers to give second-busiest transit agency in the nation more money.
Delegate Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore City, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said she didn’t receive one letter in opposition.
“It does show what can be accomplished when you work together and you communicate,” said Jackie Jeter, president of the Amalgamted Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest union. “That’s the crux of this. When we are all in favor of something, we can all come together.”
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has said the agency needs at least $500 million next fiscal year to improve safety and reliability.
The legislation, sponsored by Delegate Marc Korman of Montgomery County, proposes at least $125 million comes from the state’s transportation trust fund toward capital cost for Metro. The main contingent stems from officials from Virginia and D.C. also approving money toward Metro.
The fourth party, the federal government, released a proposed $4.4 trillion budget Monday that proposes to decrease its $150 million portion for Metro to $120 million.
Metro supporters are leery of the Trump administration’s belief in mass transit and suggest Maryland lawmakers put up $167 million, a three-way split between Virginia and D.C.
The agency currently doesn’t receive dedicated funding.
“I am beyond disappointed that the Trump administration chose to cut funding for Metro in its [fiscal] 2019 budget,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) said in a statement. “Especially at a time when most of our area delegation is fighting for the federal government to double its contribution and pay its fair share for the transit system that delivers more than 100,000 federal employees to work each day.”
During Tuesday’s hearing in Annapolis, a couple of Republican delegates asked why not requests a sales tax for businesses who open near Metro. ATU Local 689 presented a similar plan last year.
Delegate Jeff Ghrist, a Republican who represents portions of Western Maryland, said motorists in his jurisdiction shouldn’t pay for mass transit, especially since they rarely use it, if at all.
“Would you guys support a specialized tax dedicated to improving mass transit?” he said to a group testifying.
“Our position today is we take care of [Metro],” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of Coalition for Smarter Growth in northeast D.C. “It’s up to the policy makers to figure out the mechanism to do that. We’re saying it’s urgent to do that.”
Sen. Brian Feldman of Montgomery County will present a companion bill Wednesday before the Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III will be among those scheduled to testify in support of more funding to Metro.
Washington, D.C.— The MetroNow Coalition, a group of businesses and non-profit advocacy groups calling for immediate reforms to Metro governance, funding, and operations, made the following statement in response to reports that the Trump Administration’s FY 2019 budget will not include an expected $150 million in Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) funds:
“The MetroNow Coalition is deeply concerned by reports this morning that the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget does not contain $150 million in critical capital funding for Metro through the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). Maintaining this funding, long believed by Metro officials and regional leaders to be assured by law, is crucial to continued progress to improve the state of repair for our system, and MetroNow’s goal of accomplishing long-term funding and governance reform this year.
With 35 Metrorail stations serving federal government facilities, and with federal employees comprising 39% of Metrorail’s peak period commuters, Metro’s health greatly affects the efficiency and effectiveness of our federal government. MetroNow is working with a bipartisan coalition of leaders in the MD and VA’s General Assemblies and DC’s City Council who are responding to the urgent imperative to provide additional funds for Metro’s capital and maintenance backlog, and to make governance reforms that improves accountability and outcomes from the needed investment. Leaders are setting politics aside and working together because Metro powers our economy and enables a high-quality of life for our residents, including the federal workforce.
MetroNow calls upon our Federal delegation to unite as a team to secure $150 million in the FY2019 budget, and work effectively together in a bipartisan manner to secure a long-term solution and expansion to federal authorization of WMATA’s capital program, federal assistance on operating costs, and needed governance reforms. Our region’s businesses, residents and elected officials are stepping forward to make critical investments and governance reforms this year, and we call for similar coordination and advocacy from our federal Members of Congress to maintain momentum and forward progress to return the transit system to a world leading position that drives our region’s prosperity. ”
About MetroNow Coalition
The MetroNow Coalition is a group of regional leaders from organizations representing businesses and non-profit advocates who have come together to ensure that action is taken to put Metro – a vital component of Greater Washington’s transportation infrastructure – on a safe, smart and sustainable path forward in 2018 and beyond. We are dedicated to securing comprehensive improvement of Metro’s governance, funding and operational structures in 2018. Visit www.MetroNow.com for more information.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2018
Clare Flannery, MDB Communications
MetroNow Coalition Commends Maryland State Senator Feldman, Delegates Korman and Barron on Introduction of Metro Reform Bills
Annapolis, Md.— The MetroNow Coalition, a group of businesses and advocacy groups calling for immediate reforms to Metro governance, funding, and operations, made the following statement in response to a bill introduced yesterday regarding Maryland’s commitment to Metro:
“The coalition applauds Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman, Delegate Marc Korman, and Delegate Erek Barron on the introduction of The Maryland Metro Funding Act and The Metro Board Member Act.
“These bills are a positive step forward in the effort to secure Maryland’s commitment to the long-term funding and governance reforms Metro requires and the Coalition is working to ensure are enacted in 2018. We urge leaders in Annapolis to move quickly to build on this important first step on the road to enacting comprehensive reform to WMATA’s funding and governing structures.
“This is particularly urgent in light of Amazon’s announcement of its HQ2 shortlist yesterday, which included three sites in the Greater Washington metropolitan area: Montgomery County, the District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia. Amazon has stated that direct access to world class public transit is among the top criteria they will consider. Immediate action to begin reforming Metro would send a clear message to Amazon that the region is fully behind its HQ2 expansion, and prevent Metro from becoming a net negative for the Greater Washington region’s competitiveness.
“The Greater Washington region requires Metro to be capable of delivering safe, reliable, and frequent service for our continued prosperity and quality of life. Simply put, Metro is essential to our region’s prosperity across the board – from individual riders who rely on the system every day, to attracting and keeping major economic engines like Amazon.”
The MetroNow Coalition looks forward to working with Senators Feldman, Delegates Korman, Barron, Governor Hogan and legislative leaders in Annapolis to ensure that immediate action is taken during the 2018 legislative sessions to provide Metro with the long-term funding and governance reforms that are long overdue.
Below is the press release put out by Delegate Korman’s office in regards to the bill introduction:
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2018
Contact: Sean Emerson
MARYLAND LEGISLATORS PROPOSE DEDICATED FUNDING AND
GOVERNANCE REFORM FOR METRO
Bills will provide permanent, bondable dedicated funding source for Metro and add the Maryland Transportation Secretary To the Metro Board
Senator Brian Feldman, Delegate Marc Korman, and Delegate Erek Barron introduced legislation this week to provide a permanent, bondable funding source for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA or Metro) and reform Maryland’s appointments to the Metro Board of Directors.
The Maryland Metro Funding Act builds on Governor Hogan’s proposal to provide an additional $125 million in capital funding to Metro over the next four years, instead making the additional funds a permanent annual allocation from a new account within the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund. In addition, the bill indexes the state’s current capital funding contribution to Metro at 3% to ensure that the state’s allocation to Metro increases at the rate of inflation. Enactment of the Maryland Metro Funding Act is contingent on D.C. and Virginia establishing their own dedicated, bondable funding sources totaling at least $125 million respectively to match Maryland’s potential contribution.
The Metro Board Member Act would make one of Maryland’s voting members on the Metro Board of Directors the state’s Transportation Secretary or their designee. The state’s other voting board member would shift between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Adding the Transportation Secretary to the Board would put in place an individual with knowledge, staff, and resources to provide improved oversight of Metro. The District of Columbia already puts their Director of Transportation on the Board.
“Metro is a necessity for our area – an essential component for attracting new business and growing our regional economy. Given that Montgomery County is a finalist for Amazon’s new headquarters and that one of their selection criteria is access to safe and reliable public transportation, funding for Metro is more critical than ever.” said Senator Brian Feldman, who is introducing the legislation in the Maryland Senate.
“Metro is critical to our state’s transportation network and economic success. As a daily rider during the nine months a year that the legislature is not in session and with five Red Line stations in my district, I know its importance and want to see it succeed. To move Metro in a more positive direction requires both funding and reform,” said Delegate Marc Korman, the lead sponsor of the legislation in the House of Delegates and co-founder of the General Assembly’s Metro Work Group.
“A strong public transit system is key to our region’s economic development and job growth success. We are committed to ensuring Metro is safe, reliable, efficient and sufficiently funded.” remarked Delegate Erek Barron, also co-founder of the General Assembly’s Metro Work Group.
Establishing a dedicated funding source for Metro has been a need since the tri-jurisdictional agency’s formation in 1967. Reforms to the Metro Board will ensure those funds are spent appropriately. The issue is of significance to the entire state, as estimates show that that there are over 30,000 daily riders of Metrorail alone from Maryland jurisdictions other than Montgomery or Prince George’s counties. Metro is an invaluable part of the state’s economy. With the introduction of these pieces of legislation, Maryland is a step closer to ensuring that this critical asset is well maintained and reliable into the future.
About MetroNow Coalition
The MetroNow Coalition is a group of regional leaders from organizations representing businesses and non-profit advocates who have come together to ensure that action is taken to put Metro – the backbone of Greater Washington’s transportation infrastructure – on a safe, smart and sustainable path forward in 2018 and beyond. We are dedicated to securing comprehensive improvement of Metro’s governance, funding and operational structures in 2018. Visit MetroNow.com for more information.
In October, Coalition members commissioned an online survey of 621 registered voters in the District, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia, finding that 94 percent of respondents agreed that the Metro system is valuable to the greater Washington region. In the survey, 70 percent also supported an increase in public funding to improve the Metro system, and 90 percent agreed that without an effective governance structure, the Metro system can never reach its full potential.