In a letter sent today to Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Deputy Secretary James Ports, MACo President John Barr offered MACo’s aid to MDOT in collaborating to implement a project-based scoring system to prioritize major transportation projects. The letter responds to Ports’ July 28 letter requiring counties to provide MDOT with substantial analyses of their requested priorities, in response to scoring system legislation passed last session. From MACo’s letter:
Following the receipt of your July 28 letter to county leaders, I write to offer the Maryland Association of Counties’ aid to the Maryland Department of Transportation in developing a productive process to evaluate major transportation projects. We believe the best way forward on this important process is by working together.
We write here to focus on the months ahead – where the Department is charged by the legislation to create its implementing regulations. We believe that a dialogue involving public works and transportation officials and other leaders at the county level could be a great asset to the Department’s deliberations. We would welcome the opportunity to coordinate such an effort.
We look forward to seeing you, the Secretary, and other Department leaders at the upcoming MACo conference. We expect that some face-to-face discussion of these issues may be mutually beneficial in charting both the short term, and longer term, processes ahead.
After MDOT sent its initial July 28 letter, the Chairs of the General Assembly Committees which passed the scoring system legislation responded with their own letter expressing concern. MDOT followed up with counties by sending a second letter informing them of what projects would be funded based on preliminary Department project scoring. In its own letter dated last Wednesday, the Attorney General’s office advised House Appropriations Chair McIntosh that the new law does not require MDOT to implement a scoring system at this time, nor does it authorize MDOT to shift analytical responsibilities to county governments.
MDOT officials have indicated that Secretary Pete Rahn will attend the MACo Summer Conference, and will be available to discuss these issues with county leaders.
Previous Conduit Street coverage on this issue:
AG on Transportation Letters: Timing and Shift are Department Policy, Not Law
Transportation “Scoring” Process, and Controversy, Continues
Chairmen Fire Back: MDOT Transfer To Counties “Never Considered”
MDOT Letter: Counties Must Do “Front End” Analysis on Major State Projects