Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s push to have Maryland take control of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway picked up a prominent new backer on Friday — and some new opposition.
Hogan (R) met with the state’s congressional delegation at the State House Friday to discuss transportation, health care, Chesapeake Bay funding and other issues. His proposal to have the U.S. Department of the Interior transfer ownership of the parkway to the state was one of the issues officials discussed, participants said afterward.
While most Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation oppose Hogan’s plan or are neutral, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) said Friday he supports it, telling Maryland Matters that MD-295 “is probably the worst traffic problem that we have.”
He said the parkway’s design and disrepair pose a danger to motorists and threaten to deprive the National Security Agency and Ft. Meade of its workforce.
“They’re not in the road business,” Ruppersberger said of the National Park Service, which maintains the road. “If we don’t do something now, and the population keeps growing, shame on us, because there’s no other plan.”
“The governor decided that he’s going to deal with this, and I’m glad that he did,” Ruppersberger added.
Reps. Steny H. Hoyer (D) and Anthony G. Brown (D) oppose Hogan’s plan. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D) are among those waiting on more information.
In the meantime, more than three dozen state legislators are urging the state’s congressional to fight the governor’s proposal.
The lawmakers — Democrats, mostly from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties — wrote a letter to the delegation this week.
They said that because the state’s Transportation Trust Fund “has reached capacity and is oversubscribed in its 6-year Consolidated Transportation Program,” there’s no money to add “a huge new expense like maintenance of the BW Parkway.”
They also called Hogan’s proposal to add toll lanes to the parkway “inefficient and backwards,” and claimed that “hundreds of homes… would need to be demolished to make room for additional lanes.”
After his meeting with the delegation, Hogan told reporters that the state’s leaders were united in getting the Park Service to make emergency repairs to the parkway. That work begins on Friday night and will continue through the weekend.