“Scorecard” for Transportation Projects Could Marginalize Local Input

MACo Executive Director Michael Sanderson testified in opposition of HB 1013, Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016, to the House Appropriations Committee on March 1, 2016.

The bill would subject major state transportation projects to a detailed scoring system during their consideration for inclusion in the state’s Consolidated Transportation Plan.

Counties are concerned that the bill’s detailed provisions may marginalize local input, overlook regional or demographic variations in transportation needs, and under-value safety as a driving factor in project approval.

From the MACo testimony,

While the concept of HB 1013 has been compared to one employed in Virginia, the comparison is not a precise one. In Virginia, the “scoresheet” for projects divides the state into multiple tiers — recognizing that the suitable framework for assessing projects is necessarily a function of different areas’ needs, populations, and priorities.

HB 1013 instead includes a one-size-fits-all construct that will inherently be a mismatch for projects that simply do not match up with the statutorily prescribed benchmarks.

While not binding, this process ensures that the project evaluation process is substantially grounded in community-based input. Counties fear that HB 1013 could marginalize the importance of this local input, and at worst compel the Department to discontinue that valued process. MACo urges the Committee to consider structured local input as a valued part of a proper project assessment process at any level.

An identical cross-filed bill, SB 908, will be heard on March 14 in the Senate.

For more on 2016 MACo legislation, visit the Legislative Database.