On Sept. 24, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball addressed Maryland Transportation Secretary Gregory Slater and other Maryland elected officials during the presentation of the Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP), Maryland’s six-year capital budget for transportation projects.
Ball emphasized his disappointment in budget reductions for transit in Howard County and the Baltimore region, which especially impacts the workforce without access to other alternatives.
“We understand firsthand that budget and revenues at all levels of government are very tight; however, we must fund our most urgent priorities and ensure that residents have equitable access to public transportation and Complete Streets,” said Ball. “Howard County, which is nearly evenly divided in our commuter patterns to and from Baltimore and Washington, would benefit from a reevaluation of the cuts, so they are more fairly balanced across the state. Despite the financial challenges, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has the opportunity and responsibility to consider how our statewide investment in transit can be maintained to address the critical needs of our residents no matter where they live.”
Howard County residents are likely to see the following service and budget reductions as a result of the MDOT financial plan presented:
- Elimination of the Route 150 Line. The Route 150 Line is the only Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Link bus line into Howard County that provides reverse commute options and it serves the same high priority transit corridor the County is looking to improve within the recently adopted regional transit plan.
- Elimination of three MARC Camden line runs (844, 848 and 855).
- Modifications to one Baltimore Commuter Bus route (310) and four Washington DC area routes (305, 315, 325, 345)
- Projected loss of more than $1 million in state funding to RTA annually, which can be currently offset by federal CARES Act funding but will be an issue for fiscal 2023 if state or federal funding isn’t increased by then.
Ball also emphasized the importance of short-term opportunities to advance roadway safety, including investing in the design of Route 1 Safety Plan improvements that will require $3 million in construction funding. Howard County will also be submitting grant applications for bike and pedestrian projects to fund its Complete Streets initiatives, which will support projects such as:
- Dobbin Road pedestrian and sidewalk improvements;
- The Patuxent Branch Trail Construction;
- The Regional Patapsco Greenway improvements on the Elkridge to Guinness spur which is part of the coordinated regional effort to address lack of mobility between Howard and Baltimore Counties; and,
- South Entrance Trail to provide connections to new development in Downtown Columbia across current barriers of US 29 and Broken Land Parkway.
Finally, Ball highlighted Howard County’s continued long-term work with MDOT to plan for a better transportation system in Maryland. The two high priority transit corridors identified in the recently adopted Central Maryland Regional Transit Plan include:
- The Route 40 Corridor, which would impact the Route 150 Line;
- The US 29 Corridor. which is in need of congestion relief measures and a connection between Columbia and Montgomery County via the Flash Transit Service