For Immediate Release Wednesday, November 4
For more information:
Nick Brand, 404-441-4170
Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 410-258-8601
Transit Groups to Rahn:
Stop Building New Roads Until Old Ones Are Safe
Unsafe conditions on Maryland's roads need to be fixed before the state widens them or builds new ones, transit advocates said today in a letter to state Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn.
Six Maryland transit groups called on Rahn to order a moratorium on added highway capacity until the state corrects the obsolete designs of Maryland's dangerous roads, where a rash of pedestrian and bicyclist killings has occurred in recent days. Signers were 1000 Friends of Maryland, the Action Committee for Transit, Baltimore Citizens Planning and Housing Association, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Prince George's Advocates for Community-Based Transit, and Transportation for Maryland.
The transit groups pointed to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx's op-ed in last Sunday's Washington Post, where he wrote that “Metro can forget any new rail-expansion projects until it meets our safety standards.”
“Maryland's highways are much more dangerous than Metro,” said ACT president Nick Brand. “That's where the safety-before-expansion policy needs to be applied most urgently.”
Brand pointed in particular to the killings of three pedestrians on unsafe roadways within the last two weeks:
- One-year-old Jeremiah Perry, in a stroller waiting for a bus, was killed in Baltimore Sunday night. A car struck by a driver fleeing police caromed onto a narrow sidewalk, placed by highway engineers within inches of Moravia Road's high-speed traffic lanes.
- 95-year-old Marge Wydro was killed on October 21 crossing MD 190 in Bethesda, a pedestrian-hostile road with a 45 mph speed limit. The crash occurred shortly after a sidewalk connection was removed, directing pedestrians to walk in a traffic lane to reach the button they must push to get the walk signal.
- On the same day Michelle Hoyah, 18, was killed by a southbound driver on US 29 at Oak Leaf Drive. This location, where soutbound drivers move at divided-highway speeds past a busy bus stop, has been a known danger spot for over 25 years, and Ms. Hoyah was the second pedestrian killed here in three years. Yet the State Highway Administration has refused to install a traffic signal or even mark the crosswalks.
The corner on MD 190 where Marge Wydro was killed, before (top) and after recent reconstruction.
“Although excessive speed and driver error played a part in each of these deaths, an absence of concern for pedestrian safety in the design of the sidewalks and the roadways makes these locations unsafe,” added Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1000 Friends of Maryland. “The highway safety culture itself needs to be upgraded to protect pedestrians and bicyclists without discouraging walking and cycling.”
Yet another tragic loss occurred on Saturday, when long-time ACT member Lynne Rosenbusch and her husband were killed by a drunk driver while cycling in Calvert County.
For Immediate Release
August 31, 2015
Contacts: Rich Hall, Citizens Planning & Housing Association, 410-539-1369 x101
Dru Schmidt-Perkins, 1000 Friends of Maryland, 410-258-8601
Brian O’Malley, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, 410-332-4172 x122
MDOT documents fail to show review before Red Line decision
Despite lengthy delays fulfilling Public Information Act request no documents were provided showing any analysis of the Red Line project before cancelation, supporting the theory that the decision was political.
BALTIMORE, MD –The Hogan Administration was asked on July 7th to release the “thorough analysis” that informed the Governor’s decision to cancel the Red Line [PIA request letter attached]. Not surprisingly, nothing in any of the 31 files released last week (available for download, below) suggests any analysis informing the decision to cancel the project.
When the Governor announced the cancelation of the Red Line on June 25th he spoke of his administration’s assessment faulting the project. The documents provided instead show none of the issues were true.
“What I see in the MDOT documents is what we already knew: the Red Line connects other transportation infrastructure into a system, it underwent peer review and it outcompeted other projects seeking federal funding. There were substantial contingencies built into the financial plan to protect against cost overruns and it addressed a clearly defined regional need. What I do not see are any recommendations to cancel the Red Line or findings that would support such recommendations,” said Brian O’Malley, President of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. “This is like turning in a paper where you quote a bunch of stuff, but you never state your conclusion or the arguments that support it. Ask any English teacher if that kind of paper deserves a passing grade."
“The lack of evidence of any substantive review of the Red Line proves that this project was canceled to fund the building of questionable new rural highways. Over $1.3 billion dollars of state funding was taken from urgent and long-planned transit needs in the most populated parts of the state and sent to build roads on farm and forest land in other parts of the state, providing very limited transportation benefits,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, President of 1000 Friends of Maryland.
“After over a decade of assessing the transit needs of Baltimore this east-west light rail was selected. The Red Line went through many levels of tough analysis, finally having to compete against transit projects across the country before winning federal funding. To have all this careful and complicated work suddenly thrown out for questionable highway projects is simply bad for all Marylanders,” said Richard Hall, Executive Director of Citizens Planning and Housing Association.
A timeline of Rahn’s statements about the reviews show that the Secretary consistently promised to review the project, but that the Red Line’s review was repeatedly delayed until after the review of the Purple Line was completed.
The Maryland Department of Transportation is required to respond to information requests “immediately” according to Maryland Law. “An additional reasonable period not to exceed 30 days is available only where the additional period of time is needed to retrieve their record and assess their status under the PIA,” according to the Attorney General’s website. This request was finally filled after 49 days.
Next steps for the Baltimore region
Moving forward, a coalition supporting equitable transportation in the Baltimore region is developing a strategy for next steps. This coalition is led by 1000 Friends of Maryland, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and Citizens Planning & Housing Association.
- We support the efforts of Baltimore’s elected officials to seek ways to save the Red Line as the most effective means to meet critical transit needs.
- If the Red Line is not built the project funds should be redeployed to support other urgently needed transit improvements.
- We support legislation to improve the transparency, accountability and performance of major transportation spending.
- The Maryland Transit Administration’s performance must be improved and oversight of the agency must be increased.
- To increase access to jobs, housing, education and health care, we must meet the goals of the regional effort known as the Opportunity Collaborative. This three-year effort by diverse stakeholders resulted in a plan that was released in June 2015. The goals include:
- Create more opportunity for mid-skill workers to commute to family-supporting jobs via public transportation.
- Shorten commute times and improve transit reliability to reduce the burden on working families.
- Make the region a more attractive place for employers by expanding transit access to more of the region’s mid-skill labor pool.
- Increase non-car commuting options to reduce our impact on the Chesapeake Bay and reduce carbon emissions.
These issues will be discussed at a September 15 workshop that Citizens Planning & Housing Association is hosting. Their website will soon have more details (cphabaltimore.org).
The documents provided are available from the 1000 Friends of Maryland website.