Prince George’s officials say the county also urgently needs funding for roads around a proposed casino at National Harbor.
In Montgomery, there is an effort to build the Corridor Cities Transitway, which would link up the county’s fast-growing biotechnology corridor with the Metrorail system.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who has advocated expansion of the county’s commercial sector, said his plans for luring development could be thwarted without an increase in state transportation funds, which have dried up without any plan to replenish them.
“We cannot do any economic development project without transit funds,” he said in an interview.
In Montgomery, there is a similar sentiment. “We’re reaching the point of crisis about transportation,” said Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), Senate chair of the county legislative delegation.
To get the money, officials from both jurisdictions said, they would support an increase in Maryland’s gas tax. The 23.5 cent-a-gallon tax has not been altered in 20 years, despite the growing cost of building and maintaining roads and expanding public transportation throughout the suburbs.
In the most recent legislative session, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) led an unsuccessful effort to apply Maryland’s 6 percent sales tax to gasoline, just as gas prices were spiking. Now, with fuel prices down, the mood might be different, Baker said, adding that he would consider supporting any proposal to boost funds for transit and roads.
Securing transportation funding next year is critical, said Melanie Wenger, Montgomery County’s director of intergovernmental relations. Wenger said the state usually allocates about $30 million to $40 million a year to Montgomery, but the county needs much more.
And because an election year looms in two years, this is the session to make significant investments.“This is starting to be the year that something has to happen,” she said. “You don’t get something going this year, and, I think, you are waiting for a while.”
Wenger’s office released a pamphlet titled “Invest in Montgomery.” In it, county officials urged state legislators to create a plan to produce “significant and sustainable state revenues” for transportation projects.
Without the Purple Line, the CCT and other transportation projects, developments such as the Great Seneca Science Corridor and the White Flint makeover won’t prosper, the pamphlet says.
“For Montgomery County to continue to thrive as the state’s key economic engine, the State must be a full partner in investing in the County’s capital infrastructure,” the pamphlet says. “Without a stronger partnership, Montgomery will struggle to maintain its ability to compete regionally, nationally and globally.”