By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has begun lobbying state and federal officials to support a multibillion-dollar extension of Metrorail's Green Line to accommodate expected growth at Fort George G. Meade over the next decade.
In an interview after his first meeting with the post's commander, Ulman (D) said that expanding the transportation infrastructure is the main challenge to absorb Fort Meade's major expansion.
More than 5,000 workers are expected to come to Fort Meade as part of the Pentagon's plan to reorganize military bases, a process known as base realignment and closure. Builders and county planners are bracing for a flood of new residents and the challenges that growth will present.
"It's a huge priority of mine to make sure we're focused on infrastructure as BRAC materializes," Ulman said. "Transportation is at the top of the list, and then housing and quality of life."
Ulman traveled to Fort Meade on Monday for a three-hour meeting with Col. Kenneth O. McCreedy, the post's commander, so they could get better acquainted and swap plans to prepare for the post's growth.
"To a large extent, it was a get-to-know-you session about where we are and where Fort Meade is in the process surrounding BRAC," Ulman said.
Ulman has been busy lobbying officials to support the Green Line expansion as well as road improvements. He has met with two Maryland congressmen, Elijah E. Cummings (D) and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D), as well as Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari.
When asked about O'Malley, whose support would be key to a Metrorail extension, Ulman said: "I didn't get a strong sense of his direct position, but he indicated an understanding and desire to see mass transit options put forward."
Maryland officials have ramped up their support over the past year for an extension of the Green Line to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Last spring, the General Assembly approved a $1 million study of the proposed 20-mile extension, signaling that the project, long considered a pie-in-the-sky transit wish, had become a priority.
Limited transportation service from Howard and Anne Arundel counties to Baltimore and Washington is provided by public and private buses and by MARC trains. Ulman said he is also pushing for major improvements to Routes 175, 100 and 1 to accommodate increased traffic expected with Fort Meade's expansion.
"This is a great opportunity to have this many jobs coming to the region," he said. "But it's also a huge challenge."