State Officials, Policy Makers, and Advocates Dispute Maryland’s Ranking in Recent Highway Report

As previously reported, a recent report by the Reason Foundation found that Maryland’s roads rank 43rd in the nation.  MarylandReporter’s Megan Poinski has found that many state officials, policy makers and advocates dispute this ranking, but do agree that improvement can be made.

“The roads in Maryland are probably some of the best conditioned around,” said Sen. Ed DeGrange, chairman of the Senate’s Public Safety, Transportation and the Environment Subcommittee. “If you compare to the surrounding states – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware – Maryland’s roads are in much better condition. Our issue here is wait time in traffic.”

Congestion is one of the factors examined in the study as well as the dollars spent on each road mile.  Valerie Edgar, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration, raises two issues with the calculation of funds spent per road mile.

The first is that the report doesn’t give Maryland enough credit for all its miles of lanes. She said that the calculation used to determine lane width in the report cuts out a lot of the mileage Maryland has along its roads.

The second, she said, is exactly what state officials have been telling Hartgen for years: There is no simple comparison between Maryland and other states. On an average year, motorists drive about 58 billion miles on Maryland roads. Half of the Capital Beltway is located in Maryland. Baltimore has its own set of busy highways. And with its position on the East Coast, thousands of motorists heading to other places pass through the state each year.

In terms of improvements –

Policymakers and lobbyists advocated a better and more secure funding plan to ensure that the needed improvements can be made.  When revenues fell and a budget shortfall was imminent, money to improve transportation was the first thing to be cut.

A new Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding is scheduled to hold its first meeting next week in Annapolis.

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