I support a comprehensive infrastructure plan that reduces congestion, pollution, and provides greater security, accessibility and connectivity for all around our state. This will also connect people to jobs (thus fostering greater economic security) and connect businesses to their employees (thus helping our local economy).
A comprehensive plan requires an understanding of the varying needs of our residents — those in rural regions and coastlines (areas that are not accessible by mass transit and wholly dependent on over-congested roads), and our downtown cities (which often have unreliable transit options). These communities face different transportation issues, thus requiring different solutions. We must also commit to partnering with local officials and conducting community impact analysis before any action (something that Governor Hogan did not make a priority).
Here is what my Relief, Recovery, and Reform platform will accomplish:
Free Public Transit
See my “Maryland Now Plan” for details
Environmental Impact Studies
We must ensure that all legislative bills which could have an impact on our environment (for example, those that focus on transportation, infrastructure or housing), have environmental impact studies conducted before the Governor signs them into law.
This requirement will ensure the public has advanced identification and disclosure of potential harms posed by the legislation on our surrounding environment.
To ensure this requirement is adhered to, we must increase funding for more environmental-policy analysts in our state government.
One of our investment priorities should be the Metro, as many families rely on public transportation each day. They don’t live a walkable distance away from their jobs, or have difficulty getting to other essential services. We cannot cut these investments. You shouldn’t need to own a car (and be willing to drive an hour + in traffic every day) in order to provide for your family and pay your bills.
In the Montgomery and Prince George’s County regions, we should prioritize investing in the Purple line, and in the Baltimore County region, the Red line (it’s important to note that the Red Line would connect isolated Black neighborhoods to downtown jobs and other rail lines; we already spent $300 million on planning; we forfeited $900 million in federal funding; and we currently are not providing residents equal access to transit).
But what’s most important in these infrastructure projects is ensuring proper accounting of the funds used by public-private partnerships, transparency in timeline and costs, and a specific plan in place to assist residents who would be negatively impacted by construction in the short-term.
Investing further in MTA Mobility vehicles would assist those in wheelchairs, those with disabilities, those going to/from dialysis appointments, etc, who are forced to wait hours in insecure and unshaded locations. This investment would provide for more drivers and vehicles to take care of this population that has limited transit options. Furthermore, we should incentivize this option by making every 5th ride free.
Reform the MTA
MTA should always consider local concerns, perspectives, and needs to create a truly cohesive regional vision for transit, given that at the moment, it is accountable only to the Governor.
Other possible policies that could be beneficial are creating a new Greater Baltimore Transit Authority as a regional transit agency to ensure accountability and regional buy-in, and authorizing transit oversight boards made up of local representatives to oversee projects.
Additionally, creating a new board of directors to govern the MTA, including the powers of budgetary authority and general oversight, would streamline the direction of transportation policies.
Improve the DMV
We need to do a better job with customer service and reducing long-waits for those of us who arrive at the DMV. Part of the solution is expanding the online appointment scheduling system, as well as revamping the DMV’s staff onboarding and training — to not only better handle large crowds, but do so with quality (not simply quantity) of service being priority.
Without a way to get to or travel within a destination, fewer tourists will find a way to visit. Furthermore — for residents who do not currently have access to mass transit — expanding the availability of ride-sharing programs like Uber and Lyft will help increase accessibility around town and provide employment opportunities.
Office Of Rural Broadband
The direct impact tourism has upon business development would not be possible in many instances without broadband. We also need to ensure all residents have the appropriate (and equal) internet infrastructure needed to thrive and participate in the economic/social growth of our state.
We can accomplish this by installing 5g antennas on existing utility poles, streetlights, libraries and government buildings. This will not only allow better connectivity and faster internet speeds for residents and tourists, but increase competition among carriers, thus driving down costs in the long-term.
Traffic and affordable housing are deeply connected.
When people can’t afford to live near employment centers, they move somewhere cheaper and drive to work — thus increasing traffic. And when low-income people are pushed out of job centers, traffic can still worsen within that job area because high-income people drive a lot, even when they live near transit.
Similar to the development in Montgomery County, we should build new housing on Metro Station properties by extending Metro’s existing property tax abatement to new high rise development. Housing closer to Metro encourages more transit (better for the environment), expands affordable housing, and spurs economic growth.
We must encourage more mixed-use development and smart growth. This includes ensuring that new housing is built closer to areas of transit, and that we are encouraging more multi-family housing and high-rise development, not just single-family homes.
I am strongly opposed to plans to privatize, widen and create multi-directional toll lanes on I-270.
- They approved the contract with a selected developer prior to completing an environmental impact report — that’s against promises made to us.
- This plan does not address the congestion that will remain on the non-toll lanes.
- And this plan does not address how we’re going to pay for the relocation costs for almost 70 miles of water and sewer pipes or the residents that will be forced to move.
We need to use funds better in the same area and need to look at maximizing existing lanes and modes of transportation.
Expanding MARC services to Western Maryland (via expanding the Brunswick MARC and adding a third rail) would allow individuals living in Western Maryland to take part in job market growth in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia metropolitan area.
MARC train services can also be improved for the rest of the state by ensuring we have all day/weekend services.
Synchronized Traffic Lights
We should synchronize traffic lights, as most traffic signals are not designed to connect to a city’s traffic management system. Instead, they run on timers alone and require the public to call 311 to report outages.
So instead of relying solely on daily peak patterns, we should adapt to “real-time traffic”, which will include smart growth options (pedestrian, bicycle and transit traffic).
I do not support the MAGLEV project as it doesn’t address environmental costs; it is too expensive to use (would be around $60); and would not even stop in Prince George’s County (even though its residents would endure years of construction).
Our transportation priorities should serve to protect the Agriculture Reserves/green space, save taxpayer dollars, provide for the success of Marylanders, and encourage more use of public transit.
Designated Bus Lanes
We need to ensure we have more designated bus lanes on all existing roads! This has to be a part of any conversation when discussing improving our infrastructure.
Southern MD Rapid Transit Project
We need to provide better transportation infrastructure for residents in Southern Maryland. As such, I support light rail projects that can easily connect White Plains up to Camp Springs.
Sustainably expand the Bay Bridge
We need to both reduce traffic AND not forget about the threat of climate change.
That’s why one big piece of my Transportation and Climate Change plans is to require that all projects dealing with infrastructure go through an environmental impact study.
And while it’s been proven time and time again that building more roads actually doesn’t do much to reduce traffic in the long-term (since demand only increases), I also understand the need to help local residents and our Eastern Shore businesses, many who need immediate traffic relief on the Bay Bridge.
As such, since the recent environmental study completed indicated that — of all the options available- replacing the current 2 spans with one large bridge with 8 lanes will have the least environmental damage or disruption to surrounding communities — I support this plan BUT will mandate a few requirements:
- We must have at least 1 or two of those lanes be dedicated for bus or HOV vehicles to encourage carpools and transit options.
- At the same time, we must build new access roads in the surrounding neighborhood to accommodate for the increase in traffic and business.