The Beltway recommendations topped the list of 40 Maryland transportation projects prioritized by TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation study group supported by insurance companies, unions, equipment manufacturers, and firms engaged in highway and transit construction.
In a report released Wednesday, TRIP (or The Road Information Program) says Maryland’s recovery from the recession and its future economic viability depend on investment in relieving congestion and improving mobility.
“Maryland’s transportation system has significant deficiencies that could prevent the state from reaching its full economic potential,” the report says. “Maryland’s economy and quality of life could be adversely affected if its transportation system cannot provide for the efficient movement of goods and people.”
The cost of the top 10 projects TRIP listed amount to almost $13.7 billion.
“We need a billion dollars a year in new revenue to fund the transportation needs of Maryland,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman Lon Anderson, who participated in the release of the report.
In addition to the Capital Beltway improvements, the projects include replacing the Gov. Harry W. Nice Bridge between Charles County and Virginia ($885 million); widening the Baltimore Beltway ($1.2 billion); building the Purple Line light-rail line between Bethesda and New Carrollton ($1.9 billion); widening and adding interchanges on Route 5 in Prince George’s County ($1.1 billion); widening Route 295 to six lanes near Baltimore ($220 million); building Baltimore’s Red Line light-rail line between Woodlawn and Bayview Medical Center ($2.2 billion); widening U.S. 29 northbound in the Columbia area to three lanes ($104 million); building an interchange at Route 97 and Route 28 in Montgomery County ($142 million); and building an interchange at Route 210 and Kerby Hill and Livingston roads in Prince George’s.
“These are significant projects and, certainly, they are expensive projects,” said Frank Moretti, TRIP’s director of policy and research. “This is a report that’s not fiscally contrained. It’s really to help the public understand that these are the most significant projects that are needed in the state.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has proposed a 6 percent sales tax on gas to generate more money for road and transit projects, but high fuel prices have made passage of the package unlikely.
Moretti pointed to Virginia’s use of public-private partnerships to fund transportation projects as a possible model for Maryland.