A new commuter rail "superstation" in Dorsey to ease crowding at county rail stations is back on track because of state vehicle fee increases.
The state Board of Public Works has approved $2.6 million tobuy 12 acres just north of Route 176 in the Dorsey Business Center for a $5.2 million Maryland Rail Commuters (MARC) station.
"I'm delighted that they're proceeding with it," County ExecutiveCharles I. Ecker said. "Ridership on MARC trains has been tremendous. We need that station, we need additional parking so more people canride."
Although the state has agreed to buy the land, construction of the station hinges on final approval by legislators, who will not vote on the matter until next spring at the earliest.
"The revenue generated from the MVA fee increase allowed us to move ahead with the acquisition of the right-of-way for the Dorsey MARC station; however there isn't enough funding at this stage of the game to begin construction," said Rebecca Reid, spokeswoman for the state Transportation Department.
The station is dubbed a "superstation" because it will have both a ticket window and bathrooms, amenities not found at existing county stations.
The station would be on MARC's Camden Line, which runs from Baltimore's Camden Station to Washington's Union Station and serves county stations in Elkridge, Jessup and Savage.
If funding is obtained and the Dorsey station is built, it will also differ from other county stations by having paid parking instead of free parking, said Bob Shreeve, manager of marketing services for state Railroad Administration.
"The reason that we haven't charged people for parking in the past was to encourage people to use the MARC trains," but transportation funding problems will make paid parking necessary, Shreeve said.
If parking demand continues to rise in Howard County, the Dorsey station could be the site for a parking garage as well, Shreeve added.
Final approval for the land purchase -- $1.5 million for a 5.4-acre parcel -- came June 26, the same day the General Assembly agreed to increase 63 fees to raise an additional $35 million in this fiscal year and preserve more than $250 million in matching federal transportation money.
On May 15, the board approved$1.1 million for a 6.7-acre parcel.
A severe shortfall in state transportation revenues put land acquisition for the Dorsey station onhold in December.
Department officials plan to ask the legislature to raise the state's gasoline tax during next spring's session to boost the ailing Transportation Trust Fund.