Hopkins says Md. needs upgraded infrastructure

January 07, 1993|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Staff Writer

A new report from Johns Hopkins University says the Baltimore region's communications and transportation networks are lagging behind the region's shift to a service economy.

In response, it argued, metropolitan Baltimore needs a coordinated plan to upgrade regional telecommunications so that it becomes the nation's first "smart region."

The report is set for formal release Monday, but Hopkins made the study available yesterday. University spokesman Dennis O'Shea said its primary authors, Lester M. Salamon and Michael E. Bell, were traveling and not available for comment.

"The region confronts serious infrastructure problems that threaten its economic future," said the report, part of a series of "State of the Region" papers issued by Hopkins' Institute for Policy Studies. "These problems reflect recent changes in technology and communications that have significantly altered the role and character of cities and urban regions throughout the world."

The authors contend that the shift of manufacturing to other countries has lessened the industrial role of U.S. cities like Baltimore. While the region has made a prosperous transition to an economy relying less on manufacturing and more on producer services, the economy has different infrastructure needs than the roads, bridges and railroads that made industrial America go in the past, the report said.

Metropolitan Baltimore's infrastructure has "actual or potential limitations" in areas ranging from air service to the Pacific Rim to telecommunications (and a work force trained to use telecommunications technology) to environmental quality, the authors wrote.

The institute's Task Force on Baltimore Region Infrastructure Needs urges the city and the five surrounding counties -- Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard -- to set up a special projects fund to pay for infrastructure improvements. The money would come from increases in the piggy-back tax authorized last year by the state General Assembly.

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