DLS Recommends $25 Million Cut to Offset Local Roads Funding

The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) has recommended that funds in the Community Safety and Enhancement Program (CSEP) administered by the State Highway Administration (SHA) be reduced by $25 million to offset the funds being provided to local governments in the Governor’s first supplemental budget. In this budget, the Governor is providing $25 million in new roads funding to be distributed to local governments as follows – $19 million for municipalities, $4 million for counties, and $2 million for Baltimore City.

From the DLS State Highway Administration Budget Analysis,

The Community Safety and Enhancement Program (CSEP) is funded through the SHA capital program and provides funding for transportation-related projects in designated revitalization areas. Projects include roadway reconstruction, lighting and drainage improvements, streetscaping, and roadway improvements. Revitalization areas are designated by local jurisdictions.

While the level of funding programmed for CSEP in the CTP has varied over the years, it has increased significantly in the past two years, and special fund spending programmed in the current CTP is more than double the amount programmed at any time between 2006 and 2013. 

As helpful as CSEP may be in the community revitalization effort, the increased amounts of resources being programmed reduce the amount available for SHA’s core mission of building and maintaining State roads. Should the General Assembly decide to increase State transportation aid to local governments, it should consider reducing or eliminating funding for CSEP or requiring local jurisdictions to provide an equal match to the State dollars for each project.

The recommended budget action is to reduce funds for this program by $25 million.

SHA objected to this recommendation.

The Community Safety and Enhancement Program is an investment in the State’s transportation infrastructure reconstruction needs, with project funding targeted at pavement reconstruction, drainage improvements and improved safety, for all travelers, with emphasis on providing safe pedestrian accommodation. These projects on State highways are typically in older towns and communities where the antiquated drainage, curbs, signal systems and signs, along with very deteriorated pavement conditions, compromise public safety.

Reducing expenditures for this program in FY 2016 would significantly impact SHA’s ability to address needed infrastructure and safety improvements on State assets going through many Maryland communities, not only for the pending fiscal year, but for the next several years.

While the purpose of the recommended action is appreciated, it must be emphasized that the Community Safety and Enhancement Program is an investment in infrastructure of our State roadway network in towns, neighborhoods, and communities.