Transportation plan fits needs

March 02, 1996|By David L. Winstead

YOUR EDITORIAL concerning the state's capital program for transportation projects ("State's transportation hush money,'' Feb. 5) pointed out that the plan will provide significant improvements throughout Maryland. I would like to clarify several aspects.

The $5.4 billion, six-year capital program implements Gov. Parris Glendening's vision for transportation in relation to broader state goals, specifically: preserving our excellent infrastructure; supporting economic development; revitalizing our existing /^ communities; and being stewards of our environment.

Approximately half of the capital program is dedicated to maintaining our highways, bridges, tunnels, port channels, buses and rail cars. The remainder invests in our flourishing airport and port, and funds the advancement or completion of highway and transit projects statewide.

The $48 million for Redskins stadium infrastructure improvements was added without affecting any existing project commitments.

Since stadium discussions had been ongoing for quite some time, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) had anticipated construction of these important access improvements.

Such improvements for a facility of this magnitude are clearly a necessity. Additionally, the roadways will be used by motorists year round.

I disagree with your statement that Maryland lacks a long-term vision for mass transit.

Our annual Maryland Transportation Plan provides a vision and policy framework for the future of mass transit. The capital program makes substantial progress in achieving the vision.

In addition to MARC station improvements in the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas; the MARC extension to Frederick; light rail extensions to Hunt Valley, Penn Station and BWI airport; the Metrorail extensions to Glenmont and Branch Avenue; and new park and ride services, the program funds our plan to take transit into a new century of services amid declines in federal funding and changing ridership demographics.

We are examining transit center development, new corridors for fixed rail service and options for more direct connections between light rail and Metro.

In fiscal year 1997, we've funded a more detailed 25-year transit plan that will consider demographic and economic projections, land development policies and transit demand forecasts.

We are doing whatever is necessary to contain costs and be more innovative in financing projects. As a matter of fact, as announced by Governor Glendening, the $511 million recently added to the capital program was accomplished without a gas tax increase primarily through MDOT's efforts to squeeze efficiencies from our operating budget.

We will continue to seek ways to turn savings back into transportation projects for citizens throughout Maryland.

David L. Winstead


C7 The writer is transportation secretary of Maryland.

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