Transportation advocates meet with Delaney

Transportation advocates meet with Delaney

By Kelsi Loos News-Post Staff | Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2014 2:00 am

U.S. Rep. John Delaney pledged his support for several Frederick County transportation projects at a meeting with local transportation advocates.

The Frederick Area Committee for Transportation, which lobbies for county road and transit improvements, met with Delaney and local transportation officials Tuesday at Frederick Municipal Airport. The issues they discussed included highway congestion, infrastructure at the Point of Rocks MARC station and the airport.

FACT President Carol Krimm told Delaney about a plan to allow 991 route buses to travel on certain sections of the I-270 shoulder as part of a pilot program to alleviate congestion. The program, Bus on Shoulder, would be a cost-effective way to make commuting by bus more reliable and encourage ridership, FACT has said.

The Maryland Department of Transportation initially rejected the proposal because the shoulders are not built to support regular traffic and would be too expensive to upgrade. It is now re-evaluating its analysis, Krimm said, with quality of life in mind as well as costs.

Delaney said he would write a letter in support of the initiative.

“It’s a no-brainer, it seems to me,” he said. “It’s awful what goes on on I-270.”

FACT also proposed widening stretches of Md. 180, U.S. 15 and I-70 that are bottlenecks.

“I obviously support every one of these things,” Delaney said after the group had explained the need for each improvement.

Decreasing congestion is important to improving the quality of life in the 6th District, he said, and he is working on a bill to help raise transportation funding necessary for highway upgrades.

The bill, the Partnership to Build American Act, would restructure international tax law so that companies would get some tax relief on overseas revenue if they buy bonds to benefit transportation projects, Delaney spokesman Will McDonald said in a phone interview.

An investment of $50 billion would be leveraged to generate $750 billion in bond revenue for projects.

FACT brought up building another platform at the Point of Rocks MARC station, which would allow trains on the Frederick Line to stop at Point of Rocks.

Maryland Transportation Authority representatives support the idea because increased service would encourage ridership, but CSX has opposed it due to concerns about people crossing the platform and increased MARC train traffic.

“If that is the only issue, we should solve for that,” Delaney said. “We should meet with CSX.”

CSX would naturally oppose anything that disrupted freight train operations, he said.

Representatives of Frederick Municipal Airport updated the congressman on the runway extension project, which will allow larger jets to take off from Frederick fully fueled. Delaney told the group he had supported airport improvements and would continue to do so.

The group’s first meeting with the congressman was productive, Krimm said, adding that FACT had been trying to set up a meeting with CSX for some time.

“I think he saw the benefit (of the projects) to economic development and quality of life,” she said.