Tri-County Council discusses initiatives with officials
Transportation issues remain top priority in region
The Southern Mary- land Tri-County Council is an organization that was created to unite Southern Maryland officials from St. Mary’s, Charles and Calvert counties.
On Tuesday during the Charles County Board of Commissioners meeting, John Hartline, the organiza- tion’s director, made an ap- pearance before the board to update them on what is going on with the council and how its future looks.
Hartline briefed the com- missioners on costs, different initiatives and causes the Tri-County Council is supporting. Things such as land preservation, transpor- tation needs and infrastruc- ture all made the list.
Out of all of those initia- tives, transportation was high on the priority list for the council, Hartline said. It has also been at the fore- front of the discussion in Charles County with initia- tives such as Western Park- way and the SMRT Rapid Transit studies occurring at the state level.
“As you all know, Southern Maryland is a bedroom community,” Hartline said. “The most recent number from economic develop- ment is 62 percent of our residents go out of county. A lot of those go to Wash- ington, D.C.”
Commissioners’ Pres- ident Peter Murphy (D) said the county is trying to change that and retain more citizens. But in the meantime, Hartline said, the county must maintain its share of bus and trans- portation money.
There was a new park and ride established in Waldorf this year, he said, which is a good sign for a commu- nity with a large commuter base. And Southern Mary- land is currently receiving 50.2 percent that the Mary- land Department of Trans- portation allocates for bus transportation, he said.
That is a good amount, Hartline said, that matches with the state’s operating funds. However, he said, the year before that, the amount was 70.2 percent because of the state estab- lishing another park and ride area. The Tri-County Council would like to see more opportunities like that in the future, he said, and not just for Charles County.
“We would like to see more park and rides in Southern Maryland. I think there’s a lot of pent up demand for people who would like to take the bus but unfortunately have to drive through difficult traf- fic up in Prince George’s County,” Hartline said.
Commissioners’ Vice President Debra Davis (D) said the park and rides are “so important” to communities in South- ern Maryland. The Mary- land Transportation Au- thority working with the Tri-County Council has helped get more into the region, but there is still more work to do, she said.
Even with that request, Hartline said, there are still good things going on in Southern Maryland as far as transportation goes. The council wanted to see fund- ing for a new Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge, he said, and the project will soon be underway.
But there is still some work to be done, he said. The council will start work to draft a letter to the state for different transportation causes in early January. The letter will have different initiatives it will promote, he said, but they will continue to promote Southern Maryland’s causes.
Davis was the chair of the council over the last year. She will hand over the gavel in January, but said she was encouraged by her tenure as chairwoman and learned “so much.”
“We have been able to solicit so many federal and state grants for the region and to speak for the region,” she said. “I’m glad to be part of it.”