With focus on roads, Maryland has the wrong transportation priorities
The Sun weighed in on the most recent Maryland Department of Transportation “road show” and rightly lamented the state’s disinvestment from the Maryland Transit Administration and transit in Baltimore (“Maryland has a transportation revenue problem,” Sept. 30).
In addition to budget cuts, Gov. Larry Hogan and his transportation agency have emptied the pipeline of potential future MTA projects. So when a new administration takes over in 2023 there won’t be any MTA projects to advance even if that governor is more amenable to transit. It will take the region years to recover from this type of scorched earth strategy.
The Sun calls for new ways to pay for transportation, but it’s not necessarily the case that we need more revenue. What we need is a change in priorities. According to the most recent shortrange transportation plan from the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board, over the next four years our region will spend over $1 billion on expanding roads and highways. In contrast, we’ll spend a measly $2 million on expanding our transit system.
We can’t spend 500 times more on widening highways then we do on transit and expect things to get better. Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn says that if 74% of Marylanders get to work by driving alone we should spend 74% of transportation dollars on roads and highways.
The outcome of that type of thinking is that in 2018 Marylanders drove more miles per capita than any point in history. No wonder our traffic is snarled and the climate crisis is harming Marylanders.
We need to re-prioritize our spending to focus more on maintaining existing roads while expanding options for transit, biking and walking so that residents have actual choices on how to get around.
Eric Norton, Baltimore The writer is director of policy and programs for the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. Howard County schools are segregated because housing is segregated
What I took away from your coverage of the racial and financial segregation in Howard County and its schools as reported recently in the Howard County News section is that Michael Martirano, the Howard County schools superintendent, will not be satisfied until every school in our system gets a Title I ranking, along with the resultant high teacher turnovers and resultant large number of inexperienced teachers and high busing expenditures (“Howard County’s redistricting plan: Progress but not pain-free,” Sept. 10).
The current situation will not be solved by transferring 7,400 children, but by ensuring that developers are no longer allowed to opt out of providing low income housing as is currently the case in places like Maple Lawn, Turf Valley, River Hill and Downtown Columbia, and that real estate agencies are required to stop their current unwritten, but obvious segregation policies.
CBF’s Baker: Zero emissions helps climate and the Chesapeake Bay
Donald Boesch is exactly right. We can’t afford more missed deadlines to restore the Chesapeake Bay and to fight global climate change (“Bold, sensible actions needed to push Md. to net zero emissions,” Sept. 30).
After all, a healthy bay is one of our best defenses against the impacts of climate change. Estuaries protect coastal areas from flooding and storms, stabilize shorelines and provide a safe haven for wildlife.
But we won’t realize these benefits unless the Chesapeake Bay states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accelerate restoration efforts to meet the 2025 deadline outlined in the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.
Fortunately, efforts underway to save the bay will also help curb climate change.
Protecting and restoring marshes, planting trees and adding more oysters to the bay through restoration and aquaculture all improve water quality, store carbon and mitigate adverse effects of climate change.
We know climate change will put even more pressure on an already fragile Bay ecosystem. Meeting the 2025 pollution reduction targets will not only make the bay resilient to these changes, it will make our communities more resilient, too.
Saving the bay and fighting climate change go hand in hand. And both are a moral imperative. The time to act is now.