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Roads Drive the Economy: Part 2

Written by: Megan B. Owings

Marylanders agree that ROADS DRIVE THE ECONOMY

The Gonzales Poll released in February says more Marylanders support maintaining and improving the roads and bridges in Maryland than transit. According to that same poll, Marylanders also agree that roads and bridges should receive a higher funding priority over transit. 

For the second time in a little over a year, tragedy on Maryland’s highways makes the case for the critical importance of investment in Maryland’s infrastructure assets, specifically, Maryland’s roadway network. Just recently, on March 26, 2024, a chain of events seemingly out of a horror movie culminated in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge into the Patapsco River after it was struck by a massive container ship. This incident resulted in the loss of 6 hard-working construction workers and unknown economic losses for both the nation and global supply chain. This heartbreaking event underscores the importance of infrastructure maintenance and the risks faced by those who maintain our roadways.  

"The Key Bridge…carried an estimated 12.4 million vehicles annually, including more than 35,000 commuters, trucks, and vital goods and services each day. Its collapse has effectively severed Maryland's main East-West connection, crippling the Port of Baltimore and disrupting businesses and jobs throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor."

Tim Smith, President of the Maryland Asphalt Association, has been teaching the industry about Maryland’s asset management through his weekly e-mail newsletter. In the

MDOT Asset Management publication that was shared in Tim’s post, it states that:

"MDOT SHA owns and maintains more than 75 types of transportation assets across 14 critical asset classes with a total replacement value of more than $39 billion. Our program is continually evaluating and prioritizing asset needs based on age, condition, criticality, and risk."Transportation funding is always on my mind, but at this moment in time, it is also on the minds of your representatives. The Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs (TRAIN Commission) was established by the Maryland legislature in 2023 to review, evaluate, and make recommendations on the prioritization and funding of transportation projects – it is critical that the people of Maryland voice to their representatives the importance of consistent investment in roads. The current administration is very focused on transit options for Marylanders, and they need to hear from you that roads are the linchpin to all transit modalities. Your representatives need to hear from you about the impacts of bad or inadequate roads on you. What does it mean to you t­o experience wear and tear on your vehicle due to bad roads? What would it mean to you if you could not drive to work? Living in rural Maryland, how does diverting funds from roads to other transit modes (such as mass transit not available throughout the state) benefit you?

In the February 16, 2024 “lesson,” Tim, former Administrator of MDOT’s State Highway Administration said:

"Every single individual in Maryland benefits from and completely relies on our roadway network for their well-being…If you invested nearly $40B into an asset, I bet you would take care of it. Like, keep up with the routine maintenance…Set aside enough in your budget for future needs and keep it from disrepair..."

The March 26, 2024, devastating collapse of a bridge built in 1977 illustrates the economic impacts of the loss of these critical transportation assets. While the investigation is ongoing and the causes may be more than one, one thing noted by multiple news sources is the importance of protecting the bridge piers where large cargo ships navigate. According to U.S. News reporting last week:

"…Some of those measures include beefy fenders that push errant ships away from the piers, groups of pilings called ‘dolphins’ that act as safety rings around foundations, or even just mounds of rock and earth."

"Why wasn't there a retrofit for the Key Bridge? Especially when you see that the nearby Delaware Memorial Bridge is undergoing a vessel collision protection upgrade right now?’ Bell said. ‘There should have been planning for this, given the size of vessels that were going by."

The Wall Street Journal followed up with an article identifying the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as one of 8 in the U.S. similar to the Key Bridge, that accommodates massive cargo ships and may need updated pier protection

Maryland’s 446th Legislative Session ended in April so it’s too late for the iconic and historic Key Bridge. But it is not too late to convince your representatives that consistent funding to maintain our roadway network, which includes vital safety upgrades, needs to be an ongoing (year-over-year) priority. You might also remind them that the Gonzales Poll released in February says roads and bridges are Marylander’s investment priority – not transit.

As a citizen or worker in Maryland, your communication with your legislators influences their decisions. Tell your Maryland lawmakers to support the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and support Maryland’s Roads! ​​We need to ensure that new roads can be built to meet today’s demands and that existing road infrastructure is preserved. 

1. Find Your Legislators

You can use the Maryland General Assembly website to find your representatives by entering your address or zip code. You can also use the Maryland Department of Legislative Services website to track legislation, contact your Senator and Delegates via email, and obtain copies of bills from past and current legislative sessions.

The same is true for your Delaware Representatives and legislation. 

2. Contact Your Legislators

Once you have identified your legislators, you can contact them by email, phone, mail, and social media.

CLICK HERE to use our form to send a letter to the Governor and your Maryland lawmakers. Tell them we need to have an immediate infusion of money into the TTF.


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