"Maryland deserves its fair share of highway funds," Ehrlich says. "But once you play that game, they've gotcha. Demonstration projects, for the most part, constitute what most people would consider to be classic pork."
Even Ehrlich, however, could not resist pressure to ask Shuster for money for one project. At the request of state officials, Ehrlich sought $12 million to improve the treacherous York Road interchange at the Baltimore Beltway in Towson. But he did not campaign for the money, and his request was turned down. Although Ehrlich voted in favor of the overall package, he voted against Shuster's special projects fund.
Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican who is also a member of the Transportation Committee, focused on winning mass transit money for the state's buses from other parts of the bill. He did, however, successfully seek $24 million to upgrade Route 113 in Worcester County, citing safety concerns.
Many of the individual items in the House bill were hard won. Originally, Hoyer, a Democrat from Southern Maryland, was allotted two $4 million projects, one for improvements to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, for which he had sought $24 million; the other to upgrade Route 210 near the Capital Beltway. Hoyer abandoned the Route 210 project and concentrated on winning more money for the parkway.
Hoyer drew upon chits earned during 17 years in office and pushed his fellow Democrat Oberstar to provide more money for the Baltimore-Washington Parkway project, two House aides said. That project is scheduled to receive $15 million.
Bill Miller, Morella's chief of staff, says the Montgomery County Republican sought a single item from the fund: an off-ramp on I-270 near Lockheed Martin Corp. to allow traffic to flow more easily to a major corporate park. With Gilchrest's support, Shuster's bill designated $10 million.
And Cardin, a Baltimore Democrat, received $8 million to expand Route 32 near the National Security Agency and to upgrade greenways in Baltimore.
Shuster made it clear, Cummings says, that votes to support raising the spending limits, the special projects and the overall bill would count when it came time to assign money to congressional districts. Cummings adds, "That's politics, you know?"
Pub Date: 4/21/98