ICC protesters greet O'Malley at Kensington event

January 10, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,sun reporter

KENSINGTON -- Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley launched a statewide tour last night at a town hall meeting in Montgomery County, appearing with his nominee for transportation secretary before a vocal crowd largely opposed to their pledge to go forward in building the proposed Inter-County Connector.

At the top of the nearly two-hour meeting at Albert Einstein High School, Lt. Gov.-elect Anthony G. Brown told the audience the evening would be a "candid discussion" about issues affecting the area. But officials with the incoming administration, while listening, offered little in the way of concrete answers to questions.

With activists handing out anti-ICC stickers, many comments centered on the highway project to link Interstates 270 and 95 through Montgomery County. It was called unnecessary and a ploy to win votes.

O'Malley said he would "keep an open mind" on the project, though he staunchly supported it during the campaign and reiterated that support after the meeting.

The ICC was a priority of departing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

O'Malley promised not to use the state's transportation fund for other programs - at least this year.

John D. Porcari, a former transportation secretary who has been tapped by O'Malley to return to the Cabinet post, said he would conduct an audit of transportation funding but acknowledged limitations on funding new projects without additional revenues.

Porcari said he is exploring transportation initiatives including improved commuter rail service and expanding the Baltimore and Washington Metro systems.

Earlier in the day, the Maryland Transit Administration announced it was putting the brakes on implementation of the second wave of changes to bus routes in the Baltimore area at the request of the incoming administration, which has pledged to study the matter.

The officials told the audience that they want to overhaul the state's voting system, possibly this legislative session, and support a plan being offered in the state Senate.

"It's going to cost money, but we're going to do that," Brown said.

O'Malley plans to tour the state before his inauguration Jan. 17.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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