Comments re: 2050 Maryland Transportation Plan

May 5, 2023

Mr. Joe McAndrew
Assistant Secretary
Maryland Department of Transportation

Re: Comments on 2050 MTP guiding principles, goals, priorities

Assistant Secretary McAndrew:

Please consider these recommendations for refining the 2050 Maryland Transportation Plan proposed list of guiding principles, goals, and priorities, and addressing in the plan’s strategies:

  1. Climate Change should be added as its own guiding principle for the 2050 MTP.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Maryland. The global climate emergency and the Maryland Climate Solutions Now Act demand a major transformation of the state’s transportation system by 2031 with further whole-scale changes by 2045. Resilience, while a critical principle of its own, does not address rapid GHG reductions. Thus, a separate “Climate Change” guiding principle is needed. 

  1. The “Environmental Stewardship” goal statement and priorities should specify the necessary levels of sector emissions cuts, the rapid transition to electric vehicles, and the reduction in vehicle miles traveled needed to achieve Maryland’s climate targets.
    • The “Environmental Stewardship” goal statement needs to be more explicit: “Minimize environmental impacts and rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions throughout the transportation system.” 
    • Please add the following as separate priorities, reflecting the key pathways identified in a variety of state and national studies: 1) Contribute to the Climate Solutions Now Act GHG reduction targets (60% by 2031 relative to 2006 levels and net zero by 2045) by achieving the necessary GHG emissions reductions in the transportation sector of 45% or more by 2031; 2) Rapidly transition to all-electric light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles by necessary timeframes; and 3) Reduce per capita Vehicle Miles Traveled 20% by 2030 relative to pre-pandemic levels with further reductions by 2045.
  2. “Choice and Accessibility” is an important goal but needs to address the critical role of land use planning.
    • The goal statement should note “Expand transportation connections and options and coordinate land use and housing to allow Maryland’s diverse communities to access opportunities more affordably and conveniently.” 
    • Please add a priority statement that elaborates: “Facilitate and prioritize walkable, compact, mixed-use, transit-oriented land use, and help provide sufficient housing options and affordable housing in these locations.”
    • Expand #5. Four out of five trips are non-work trips, so this should encompass the wide daily trip needs of Maryland residents: “Increase access to jobs, educational centers, social services, and other daily needs by non-auto options.”
  3. Strengthen “Safety and Security” by specifically addressing the crisis of rising deaths and injuries among pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. 
    • Please add a separate priority to address the critical safety needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users, including the role of roadway and vehicle designs that put them at risk.
  4. “Economic Development” should note critical Maryland assets in its priorities, such as the Northeast Corridor and freight rail network, similar to the transit-oriented communities that are already included. 
    • Add a priority that recognizes the critical role and the needs of the Northeast Corridor and freight rail network in supporting Maryland’s economy.  
    • Reframe Priority #4 “Minimize traffic and truck delays.” Traffic volumes of vehicles, pedestrians, and other users of our streets can be a sign and source of economic vitality in many communities and are not always a detriment. The real issue is inefficient transportation and land use that prioritize vehicles over people and communities at great economic as well as health and other costs. Instead, this should be reframed as “Maximize the efficient flow of goods in ways that provide economic and livability benefits to local communities as well as to regional economies, and that minimize pollution and other negative impacts.” 
    • Lift up and expand Priority #5 Transit-Oriented Development, which is an important ingredient to the state’s prosperity and deserves to be near the top of the list, ahead of airport and cruise ship travel. In addition to transit stations, high-frequency bus corridors are critical to essential workers and should be included as additional locations for inclusive TOD.
  1. We are glad to see Equity and Preservation as guiding principles and reflected in the goals and priorities. We look forward to seeing 2050 MTP strategies that reflect these priorities. 

 Thank you for the opportunity to comment. 

For the Coalition for Smarter Growth:
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
Cheryl Cort, Policy Director
Bill Pugh, Senior Policy Fellow
Carrie Kisicki, Montgomery Advocacy Manager

Lindsey Mendelson
Transportation Representative
Sierra Club Maryland Chapter

Eric Norton
Director of Policy & Programs
Central Maryland Transportation Alliance

Heather Murphy, Director, Office of Planning and Capital Programming, MDOT
Sandy Hertz, Director, Office of Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation, MDOT
MDOT 2050 MTP comments: