State in line for $25 million in transportation funding

Senate committee OKs spending bill

June 14, 2000|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - A key Senate panel approved a transportation spending bill yesterday that includes more than $25 million for projects in Maryland, including improvements in air traffic control, transit subsidies for the working poor, and planning for a proposed magnetic levitation rail service.

"Each year I fight for federal funding to make traveling in Maryland safer, faster, and easier," said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who helped secure the money. "This [spending] lives up to that promise."

The Maryland projects - along with work at dozens of airports in the home states of other senators who serve on the Appropriations Committee - are likely to receive a disproportionate amount of money from the $928 million set aside for airport improvements next year.

The House passed its version of the bill in May. In addition to containing funds for the programs supported by Mikulski, the House bill included $10 million for the replacement of older mass transit buses in Maryland and $2 million for the extension of a Metrorail line in Prince George's County, at the behest of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Southern Maryland Democrat.

The Senate bill includes $14.5 million to improve communication among air traffic controllers, pilots and ground-based emergency personnel and to upgrade air traffic control recording systems - a program expected to benefit Litton Denro, a Montgomery County-based company.

A political action committee linked to Litton Denro's parent company, Litton Industries, a major electronics and military contractor, contributed $1,500 to Mikulski's re-election campaign in 1998.

"Nobody on the Senate staff knows who donated to her in '98 or any other year," said Johanna Ramos-Boyer, a Mikulski spokeswoman. "It's a Maryland-based company, and it employs many people in the state. It's a good program, it helps air traffic controllers, and that's the only reason we support that."

The Senate bill also includes:

$4 million for an environmental impact study and preliminary engineering plan for a magnetic levitation rail system between Baltimore and Washington - one of seven routes to be considered for the high-technology rail service.

$4 million toward Maryland's effort to develop an electronic system of screening, testing and issuing credentials for commercial vehicles.

$2.4 million for transit programs in Maryland for the working poor who are commuters.

$1 million to replace the air traffic control tower at Martin State Airport in Baltimore County.

$750,000 to combat "aggressive driving" in the Washington metropolitan area, particularly on the Capital Beltway.

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