Md., Va. unite for traffic studies

Reports will focus on Washington area

Baltimore & Region


Maryland and Virginia will spend about $1 million each on two 18-month traffic studies to help determine how to alleviate congestion on Washington metropolitan area roads, state officials announced yesterday.

"What's the best solution for the entire region?" Virginia Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia said to reporters in Annapolis yesterday. "Maryland and Virginia have to agree on the answer."

Warner, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Washington Mayor Anthony Williams were meeting yesterday to discuss matters affecting the mid-Atlantic region.

The road studies will explore what combination of transit, rail, bus, and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and Hotlanes could reduce traffic tie-ups. Virginia will lead a study of 14 miles of the Wilson Bridge corridor while Maryland will spearhead an examination of 14 miles of the American Legion Bridge corridor.

Money for Maryland's project will come from Maryland Transportation Trust Fund revenue, according to Robert L. Flanagan, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

After their two-hour session in the governor's residence, which covered a variety of topics from homeland security to nanotechnology, the three emerged to offer an overview of their conversation, stressing the need for continued cooperation on all fronts. It was their fifth such meeting.

Ehrlich, a Republican, teased Democrats Warner and Williams, who are finishing their final terms, about an opening in Maryland for which they might be suited; as Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele launches his U.S. Senate campaign, Ehrlich is looking for his replacement.

"I appreciate the interest expressed by both these gentlemen," Ehrlich said.

On homeland security, the three men agreed that the states and the District of Columbia had made great strides. Ehrlich discussed the difference in reactions between 9/11 and the recent terrorist threat in Baltimore.

"We are light years from there, from where we were four years ago," Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich did express frustration, however, at reports from unnamed sources challenging the validity of the threats to the Fort McHenry and Baltimore Harbor tunnels, which were temporarily closed last week while the situation was being investigated.

"The Feds, in advising us, clearly need to speak with one voice," he said. "Anything else puts us in a very, very difficult situation."

Warner said that in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the leaders are also working with homeland security officials to re-examine evacuation plans and to determine how in a crisis they best can get water, food and fuel to people in need.

On Dec. 6, the governors and mayor expect to learn the findings of a working group on nanotechnology - the engineering of atoms. They had created the group at their last meeting.

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