State officials and politicians presiding at a ceremony marking the completion of Route 10 took a decidedly pro-tax stance Saturday, praising previous tax plans that helped build the road and complaining about budget cuts that might stall additional projects.
Saying a gasoline tax enacted four years ago helped pay for the 2.27 miles of asphalt extending Route 10 from Route 100 to Ritchie Highway, officials said a new fuel tax is needed to keep future transportation projects viable.
"None of us likes to dig into our pockets," said O. James Lighthizer, secretary of the State Department of Transportation and former county executive. "But the gas tax for people in this county meant this road.
"And it meant I-97 and it's going to mean Route 100. It does mean the improvements to Route 50. . . . This county is benefitingtremendously from state expenditures."
Officials spoke in a tent set up at the new intersection of Ritchie Highway and Route 10. The four-lane extension links Route 2 north of Pasadena Road to Route 100 south of Mountain Road.
Drivers headed for the Beltway can either merge onto Route 10 or follow Route 100 to Route 3. Either way, they will save time and aggravation by avoiding bottlenecks on Ritchie Highway and Route 3. Commuters who now enter Route 100 north of Jumpers Hole Road will avoid the congested stretch of Ritchie Highway from Severna Park to Pasadena.
The $14-million project was completed eight months early and was several hundred thousand dollars under-budget.
"Anne Arundel County has been blessed over the last years to receive the giant piece of the pie for transportation funding," said Sen.Phil Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park. "We're no longer riding on congested roadways, and this has assisted in the economic development of our country."
Lighthizer credited the more than $1 billion the county has received in state and federal funds over the past eight years in making Anne Arundel's roads what he called some of the best in the state.
"It's more (money) than any other county in the state of Maryland has gotten during that period of time," Lighthizer said.
Every speaker at the ceremony praised Gov. William Donald Schaefer for getting the gasoline tax through the General Assembly and for spending somuch in Anne Arundel County.
But Schaefer used the occasion to blast the press and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Budget and Taxation, who said Friday the governor's plan to raise more than $800million a year while restructuring Maryland's taxing and revenue distribution system was dead.
"I don't come here the happiest," Schaefer said. "I come here because a road is done. I'm happy because tomorrow no one will even remember the sacrifice and the effort of the state workers to get this done on time and under-budget.
"Would there ever be a newspaper or a television reporter that would say how hard the employees worked (or) is there a newspaper that would say we saved a lot of money, and we were able to use that money on another project? The answer, of course, is 'no.' "