MACo, on behalf of Maryland’s 24 county governments, sent a letter to Governor-Elect Wes Moore calling for a new and meaningful commitment to local transportation infrastructure, building on recent gains.
The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) is an unprecedented investment in the nation’s infrastructure, including all modes of transportation, water, power, broadband, cybersecurity, energy, environmental remediation, resilience, and more.
With Maryland set to receive billions over the next several years, close coordination with state and local partners is fundamental for unlocking the benefits from these historical investments, delivering on essential projects underpinning our economic success, and enhancing the quality of life across Maryland.
Given the opportunity created by federal infrastructure investments and the compelling needs demonstrated by local governments on a decade-plus “starvation diet” of road and bridge funding, county governments stand ready to help deliver on the promise of the IIJA through collaborative efforts to build and maintain the road and bridge infrastructure Maryland needs to meet our future challenges, focusing on resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
According to the MACo letter:
The IIJA allocates more than $1 billion to repair and rebuild our roads and bridges. Unquestionably, local governments maintain the lion’s share of this critical infrastructure. In Maryland, unlike in most other states, local governments own and maintain roughly five of every six road miles across the state. However, a systemic lack of investment has jeopardized safety and maintenance work on local roads and bridges across Maryland for decades. Marylanders’ commute times and displeasure are on the rise, and each driver pays $637 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.
Historically, the State once supported a balanced means to maintain its transportation infrastructure. The bulk of transportation revenues – mainly motor fuel and vehicle titling taxes – had been split between the State (for its consolidated Transportation Trust Fund, serving multiple modes) and local governments. For decades, this split served all parties effectively.
During the depths of the “great recession” in 2009, the State faced a mid-year budget crisis. As a result, the Board of Public Works adopted a 90% reduction in county/municipal distributions of these Highway User Revenues, and a roughly 40% reduction to Baltimore City’s allocation (the largest by far to any jurisdiction). With the compounding factors of a 2013 expansion of transportation revenues and additional funds recently allocated exclusively for State projects, local governments have fallen even further behind on funding owed – and desperately needed – to maintain Maryland’s roads and keep residents safe.
Since then, recession-driven cutbacks in many service areas have been fully or largely restored. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Highway User Revenues. While county governments gained some funding during the 2018 and 2022 legislative sessions as part of a temporary funding boost, their cumulative share still trails far behind the historic – and proper – share. At the peak of the current plan, adopted in 2022, municipal governments will be restored fully to their proper share, but county governments still trail far behind full funding.
MACo and county governments stand ready to help deliver on the promise of the IIJA through collaborative efforts to build and maintain the road and bridge infrastructure Maryland needs to meet our future challenges, focusing on resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
We hope that you and your Administration consider counties to be partners and resources in this effort.