On February 3, budget analysts from the Department of Legislative Services briefed the House Appropriations Committee on transportation funding issues. The briefing, the first in a series of budget hearings on the Maryland Department of Transportation, provided an overview of the Transportation Trust Fund, actions that have occurred with the fund over the past several years and a summary of recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding. As reported by MarylandReporter.com:
In a hearing on the state’s transportation budget Friday, legislative analyst Jonathan Martin told members of the House Appropriations Committee that Maryland’s aging infrastructure is demanding more and more dollars.
“Because of all the funding pressure for transit lines and system preservation, the amount raised is insufficient to meet those needs,” Martin said. “With a shortfall, as policymakers, you have difficult choices to make.”
The shortfall is exacerbated by two major factors. The state is planning to build two major commuter transit projects – the Red Line to connect Baltimore suburbs and the Purple Line to connect Washington, D.C. suburbs – without a funding source. The federal government is paying half of the planning costs, but estimates for construction costs are as much as $724 million in a single year. Congress has not come to a consensus on how to fund transportation in the future, causing uncertainty about continued funding.