Maryland gubernatorial candidate James L. Shea (D) released a transportation plan on Thursday that focuses heavily on improving the state’s public transit system, calling for the construction of the canceled light-rail Red Line in Baltimore, an expansion of MARC train services and additional bus lanes for I-270.
The plan also calls for increased transit options and road improvements in Western Maryland, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, and restoring funding trimmed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) from the Purple Line light-rail project in the Washington suburbs.
“We need a plan for an integrated transit system,” Shea said. “Right now we’re moving in silos, leaving us with a disjointed network of transit options.”
Shea, an attorney and former chair of Venable LLP, criticizes Hogan for killing Baltimore’s Red Line, an east-west light rail line, and diverting the state money to road and bridge projects elsewhere and for opposing a bill backed by the Democratic-controlled legislature that created a process for prioritizing transportation projects.
He said there needs to be better coordination, including the same payment technology, between the transit systems in the Washington suburbs and Baltimore City, to “provide more fluid service” to Maryland residents.
Shea says he would support dedicated funding for Metro but does not offer details of how he would pay for it.
He says he is “open” to public-private partnerships, similar to the one recently proposed by Hogan to pay for a major road expansion adding four toll lanes each to the Capital Beltway (I-495) and I-270 from the Beltway to Frederick and widening the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295) by four toll lanes.
He would also use federal money, rider fares and the Transportation Trust Fund to help fund projects. The “most important” issue, he said, is having a plan to work toward “a sustainable end goal.”
The plan appears to have some glitches. For example, Shea says Hogan would spend $9 billion on his road-expansion plan, even though the governor has said that $7.6 billion of that cost would be born by private companies that would build the toll lanes and recoup the revenue.
Shea also mixes up the acronyms for the Maryland Transit Administration and the Maryland Transportation Authority. And he says that Hogan and his transportation secretary, Pete Rahn, “explicitly acknowledge that they do not see the value that public transit infrastructure has in spurring economic development,” even though Hogan and Rahn have frequently touted those benefits in talking about the Purple Line and other projects.
Shea is one of eight candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for governor next year. The others are: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; former NAACP president Ben Jealous; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery); Krishanti Vignarajah, a former policy aide to Michelle Obama; tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, and Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, founder of Global Policy Solutions and wife of U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).