Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley addresses the House of Delegates on the opening day of the 2012 legislative session in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
File: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A series of public meetings this month will kick off an important study for a rapid transit corridor in Southern Maryland.

The Maryland Transit Administration is considering a proposed 19-mile transit alignment along the State Route 5/U.S. 301 corridor to connect the Waldorf area in Charles County to the Branch Avenue Metro Station in Prince George’s.

The $5 million study is viewed as an important first step to address traffic congestion and demand for public transit in some of Maryland’s most rapidly growing areas.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said in a press statement that the study will move efforts “to relieve congestion for Southern Maryland commuters while helping us meet our goals of doubling transit ridership by 2020 and reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”

MTA will host three open house meetings this month, all between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.: 

June 10 – Surrattsville High School, 6101 Garden Drive, Clinton, MD 20735

June 18 – Waldorf Jaycees, 3090 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601

June 19 – Thurgood Marshall Middle School, 4909 Brinkley Road, Temple Hills, MD 20748

Charles and Prince George’s officials have been in conversations for years about the possibility of a rapid transit bus system and a light-rail system.  Most recently the two counties partnered to launch a bus line that provides, for the first time, a mass transit connection between the jurisdictions. MTA also last year expanded its commuter bus service from Charles County to address growing demand for transit.

As Southern Maryland has continued to grow, more people are commuting to jobs at popular commercial centers such as Brandywine Crossing in Prince George’s and Pinefield South Shopping Center in Waldorf.  Southern Maryland residents have also been asking for better connections to the Metrorail system.

The new study could take about two years to be completed. It will identify alternatives for a transit corridor and the best mode of transit in that area, whether it would be a bus rapid transit or light rail.  At the meetings, state officials will be on hand to answer questions, get feedback from the public and provide history and other information about the project.