The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 will provide crucially needed funding for improving, expanding and building transportation projects throughout Maryland. Projects critical to continued economic growth throughout Central Maryland — such as the
The dedication of $100 million to the MARC system to fund weekend service on the
MARC is the backbone of that regional system. It unites the two largest metropolitan areas in the state and serves a number of major job growth centers, including
Connecting Washington with Baltimore is not only "worthwhile," as The Sun stated in a recent editorial, it is critical to Baltimore's economic growth and vitality. Weekend service on the Penn Line will certainly support Baltimore's significant tourism and convention business, and it will be a major asset in Mayor
This trend has been validated in study after study. According to the Baltimore Metropolitan Council's long-term projections for regional employment growth from 2000-2035, job growth in the city will increase by approximately 5 percent, while in the surrounding counties it is projected to grow by approximately 40 percent. Baltimore's share of the state's total employment fell from 33 percent in 1970 to just over 10 percent in 2011, according to a study by the University of Maryland,
The access needed to support job growth; accessibility to jobs, educational opportunities and health services; residential growth; and tourism requires a robust, interconnected and coordinated system of mass transit and highways. Weekend service on the MARC begins to establish that system, but the state must not stop there. Additional late night service, midday express service, and more service from Baltimore north to serve the growth in
But MARC does not stand alone. The future Red Line light rail line in
Last, but hardly least, the MARC system supports a number of transit-oriented development (TOD) projects in the Baltimore/D.C. area. TOD is not just the flavor of the month for transit advocates; it is grounded in sound economic policy. Concentrating residential and commercial development at transit stations reduces sprawl and congestion, maximizes the return on investment for public infrastructure such as roads and utilities, and provides the lifestyle that increasingly attracts both millennials and empty-nesters who do not want to depend on a car 24/7.
The political leaders who made the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act happen deserve thanks. Weekend service on the Penn Line is a great start to what should be a plan of continued investment to expand a rail system that unites and fosters the economic synergies between greater Baltimore and D.C. and its suburbs. Our region and its people deserve no less.