Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Leggett Testifies in Annapolis for Comprehensive Transportation Financing

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett testified before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on February 20 concerning Senate Bill 830, the Transportation Financing Act.

Excerpts of Leggett’s speech are below:
“Now is the time – this is the year – for Maryland to reach a consensus on a plan that will produce significant and sustainable State revenues for transportation investment in this State. The State’s economic future depends on it.

“While we may not agree on the options selected, the Senate President’s plan creates the opportunity for a serious discussion to take place about the need to invest in our State’s transportation infrastructure.

“I believe now, more than ever, we are at a tipping point – one that Virginia has also finally realized – that in both rural and urban areas the lack of any new investment in transportation has taken its toll from a quality of life and economic development perspective. Developing and maintaining transportation infrastructure has to be a partnership – and Montgomery County is doing its part.

”Our list of transportation priorities reflects funds already spent and planned County investments totaling nearly $300 million – for transportation projects that by definition are the State’s responsibility. Why are we doing this? Because we had no choice!
Our needs alone are daunting. Montgomery County’s four priority projects, without full build outs, require over a billion dollars of State investment. One of these projects is the Watkins Mill Interchange located in the I-270 corridor, which, once completed, will result in the addition of nearly 15,000 new jobs.”

Although others in the State may think, ‘Your transit and failed intersection needs aren’t our problem,’ I would argue that they are, particularly if the Washington region is going to continue to be depended upon to be a key economic engine and creator of jobs for the State. All of our new master plans require transportation investments. These plans, and the jobs they will create, cannot move forward without this investment, which the State must partner in.

“With Northern Virginia’s HOT lanes that opened in the fall and the Silver Line opening next year, the regional competitive landscape for the Washington region has shifted. And, we are closely following the Virginia debate, which could very well produce a comprehensive funding plan by the end of the week.”

Leggett urged State lawmakers to act so that Maryland and Montgomery County will remain economically competitive in the future.