The soundproofing of two county elementary schools within the flightpaths of Baltimore-Washington International Airport will have to wait until state officials solve the fiscal crunch facing the Departmentof Transportation.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer imposed a temporary freeze on new construction spending by the Department of Transportation in November. DOT officials had earlier reported that the Transportation Trust Fund used to pay for school soundproofing as well as light rail and road projects had been depleted.
Friday, Ted Mathison, director of the Maryland Aviation Administration, told state lawmakers that soundproofing projects at Glen Burnie Park Elementary and Oakwood Elementary would be delayed as a result.
"We have federal grants sitting in our accounts and waiting for matching state money," said Michael L. West, associate administrator for planning and engineering.
Meanwhile, soundproofing at Arthur Slade Elementary, a Catholic parochial school, will begin in July, West said. The $3.5 million project had already been approved when the freeze began, he said.
Similar work at Corkran Elementary School, costing $4.5 million, was completed last summer. The school, which hadbeen closed for a year because of the work, reopened in September.
West projected the combined cost of soundproofing Glen Burnie Park and Oakwood at $2.3 million to $2.5 million.
West said the freeze will remain in effect while new Transportation Secretary O. James Lighthizer reviews the agency's budget and seeks new money from the General Assembly.
During his state-of-the-state address Friday, Schaefer asked the General Assembly to pass a 5 percent sales tax on gasoline to replenish the transportation fund. The state already imposes a18.5-cent per gallon tax on gasoline.
Sen. Jack Cade, R-Severna Park, said lawmakers will consider a new gas tax before any proposed tax overhaul, which was also requested by the governor. Schaefer favors a proposal that would cut income taxes but raise other sales taxes and create a personal property tax on cars and boats.
Mathison and West attended Anne Arundel County's House delegation meeting Friday morning to update lawmakers on efforts to reduce noise around the airport.
Mathison said the airport had made modest improvements, primarily by using more modern aircraft known as Stage 3 planes. In 1987, 17 percent of the airport's flights were by Stage 3 jets. By November, 38 percent of its flights were by Stage 3 jets, he said.