Fee Increases Revive Commuter Rail Station

July 11, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Contributing writer

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 station.

Louise Hayman, spokesman for County Executive Robert R. Neall, said the county is "delighted" to have the station, especially since Anne Arundel was hard hit with cuts in the transportation budget.

She agreed that the recent legislation increasing motor vehicle processing fees helped free up some money that otherwise would have been lost.

"We're delighted we can move ahead," she said.

Hayman also said the station is needed.

"Any move that increases the rail usageand takes commuters off the highways, we are in favor of," she said.

Although the state has agreed to buy the land, construction of the station hinges on final approval by legislators, who won't vote on the matter until spring at the earliest.

"The revenue generated from the MVA fee increase allowed us to move ahead with the acquisitionof 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 called 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 money is obtained and the Dorsey station is built, it also will differ from othercounty stations by having paid parking instead of free parking, saidBob Shreeve, manager of marketing services for the 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, Shreeveadded.

Final approval for the land purchase -- $1.5 million fora 5.4-acre parcel -- came June 26, the same day the General Assemblyagreed to increase 63 fees to raise an additional $35 million in this fiscal year and preserve more than $250 million in matching federaltransportation money.

On May 15, the board approved $1.1 million for a 6.7-acre parcel. The board is made up of the governor, the state comptroller and the state treasurer.

A severe shortage in state transportation revenue 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 its next s session to boost the ailing Transportation Trust Fund.

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