Following the controversial letter to counties from the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) requiring by August 15 substantial studies and analysis on any county-identified major transportation project, the Chairs of the General Assembly Committees passing the initiating legislation responded with their own letter. Senator Edward Kasemeyer and Delegate Maggie McIntosh, chairs of the Senate and House committees passing HB 1013, issued a joint letter today with a harsh response to the MDOT proposed shift of burden.
The Chairs’ letter expressed concern with the process change and timing offered recently by MDOT, citing provisions from HB 1013 requiring regulations to be adopted by January of 2017 — a process that has not even begun yet.
From the legislative leaders’ letter:
[W]e remain perplexed how MDOT can require exhaustive project information in the next seven business days – all while claiming that the legislative requirements of the Act may ultimately lead to county transportation priorities being defunded. Much of the requested documentation and evaluation has traditionally been completed by MDOT or metropolitan planing organizations across the State. The unilateral transfer of these responsibilities to the counties is troubling and was never considered much less required by the General Assembly or the legislation.
The Chairs’ letter closes with a look forward toward further process in developing the regulations and (presumably) the long term division of analytical responsibilities for major transportation projects:
We hope that MDOT will work in the months ahead to implement a transparent and fair project-based evaluation process of which all Marylanders may be proud.