Transportation Committee hires lobbying group

Transportation Committee hires lobbying group

The Frederick News-Post

By Kelsi Loos News-Post Staff | Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 2:00 am

The Frederick Area Committee for Transportation says it has a plan to make its voice heard in Annapolis this session.

With a $25,000 allotment from the Board of County Commissioners, it enlisted the Greenwill Consulting Group to help lobby in favor of county transportation projects.

Greenwill has experience with transportation issues, although this will be its first time working directly with a transportation committee.

It represents the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and has addressed transportation on the chamber’s behalf, government relations associate Jeanette Ortiz said.

Ortiz also worked with various levels of government as Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s policy director. She served as deputy director of the Base Realignment and Closure process subcabinet, which involved transportation issues at Fort Detrick.

FACT members Carol Krimm and Mel Fair are set to go to Annapolis with Commissioner Paul Smith, the committee’s liaison, early in February to discuss county transportation priorities. They also plan to testify on the county’s needs at budget meetings.

The three key priorities for FACT, committee president Krimm said, will be evaluating a buses-on-shoulders program, projects at the airport and how to leverage Fort Detrick to secure federal transportation funding for projects related to the base.

The buses-on-shoulders program allows buses to bypass congestion by riding on the shoulders at low speeds in designated areas at designated times. In Frederick, the program aims to encourage transit use and take cars off I-270.

“Whenever you can make bus travel quicker and more reliable, which this would do, then you’re going to increase ridership even more,” county traffic engineer Ron Burns said.

The airport will be a focus because of its economic potential, Krimm said.

The group will focus on other areas as well, such as making sure system preservation projects receive funding.

When the session is over, FACT will set its sights on Congress, aiming to capitalize on area representatives’ powerful positions in the Senate and House.

Krimm noted that Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-8th, is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski is chairwoman of the Committee on Appropriations.

“We want to utilize them to the best of our ability and get as much money as we can back to Frederick and to highlight the benefit of Frederick County to the overall economic viability of the state of Maryland,” Krimm said.

Securing transportation funding can be a challenge, Ortiz said, when there is so much uncertainty around the state budget. However, she considers Frederick’s delegation and county commissioners strong voices in Annapolis.

“I think we have the right amount of support,” she said.