GOV. HOGAN’S PRIORITY OF REPEALING LAW TO REVIEW TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS AN AFFRONT TO GOOD GOVERNMENT
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends of Maryland, 410-258-8601 (cell)
Brian O’Malley, CMTA, 410-332-1723, Ext. 122
ANNAPOLIS, Feb. 2, 2017 – Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to make his top priority repealing a law to help guide the spending of transportation construction dollars is an affront to all Marylanders who care about transparency in government and best practices, say corporate and civic leaders.
The statute, known as the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016 (House Bill 1013), was enacted last year when the General Assembly overrode a veto by the governor.
“The governor is misrepresenting this law and ignoring evidence from other states that this process really works. It can ensure that Maryland moves forward with better transportation projects and in a more transparent way,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, the president of 1000 Friends of Maryland, a smart growth advocacy group.
The state of Maryland spends more than $2 billion every year on capital transportation projects. Historically, a governor could select projects for funding without regard to the state’s overall transportation goals. The 2016 law requires the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to develop a scoring system to rank and prioritize highway, bridge and public transit proposals. Supporters say the scoring system will make the state more accountable for how it spends its tax dollars by giving the public an understanding of Maryland’s greatest needs and overall priorities.
While providing MDOT with great latitude, the law requires the agency to develop a project scoring system using 23 different measures. The scoring process is modeled after a similar system in Virginia known as “Smart Scale,” which enjoys broad bipartisan support in that state. Other planning and scoring systems have been implemented in Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Washington and by the Federal Highway Administration, among others.
“Construction dollars are scarce so we all should want our dollars to flow to the projects that best achieve goals like connecting people to jobs,” observed Brian O’Malley, the president and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. “This law provides MDOT with the latitude to set up a scoring system that works. The agency has yet to do that, even though there are many examples of best practices from other states that could be applied here. And the law certainly does not require the cancelation of any pending projects.”
Let’s keep in mind the bigger picture,” added Schmidt-Perkins. “The decisions on how we spend our transportation dollars have an impact on the everyday lives of all Marylanders: how they get to work, how they get to school, where they choose to live, how food gets to their grocery store, whether they can open a new business, how clean is the air they breathe. It is imperative that MDOT develop a real scoring system.”
Two months ago, 1000 Friends and the Transportation Alliance released a report (link to report click here or go to www.friendsofmd.org.) that detailed how the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act could be successfully implemented by highlighting how other states and the federal government had addressed eight of the 23 measures required for the scoring system.
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1000 Friends of Maryland is a smart growth advocacy group founded in 1994.
The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance was formed in 2007 as a diverse coalition of corporate and civic leaders uniting business, philanthropic and institutional sectors around a common agenda: improving and expanding transportation options for the citizens and businesses of central Maryland.