The Governor is proposing cuts to transportation projects to close a budget gap.
Frederick, Md (KM) Some local officials are speaking out against a proposal by Governor Wes Moore to cut transportation projects in Maryland, one of which is the widening of US 15 in Frederick. Rick Weldon, President and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, calls this project “critical” to Frederick County. “When you can walk faster between Route 40 and 7th Street on 15 every afternoon from 3:00 to 7:00, you know you have a serious capacity problem,”: he says.
Widening US 15 in both directions between Interstate 70 and Route 26 has been the top local transportation priority for many years, and was recently approved for design and construction funding. But the state is facing a multi-billion-dollar shortfall over the few years, and the Maryland Department of Transportation is looking an eight-percent across-the-board funding cuts.
Josh Bokee chairs the Frederick County Transportation Services Advisory Council. “US 15 has been a bipartisan priority for a number of years and a number of delegations which I have to say I appreciate. This would be devastating to Frederick County,” he says.
Weldon notes that the state this year is facing a $322-million budget shortfall. He says this could be used as a way to expand the sales tax to services which are currently exempt which would make Maryland less competitive with neighboring states. “And this is very competitive region between Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, North Carolina. We’ve got to get better at not hitting the business community when it comes to revenue. The state needs to look harder at control as opposed to revenue increases,”: he says.,
Bokee, who spoke recently to the County’s Legislative Delegation, urged lawmakers to keep fighting to keep this project on track. “I don’t speak for anyone other than myself. But I can say probably with assertiveness that the community stands behind you in your advocacy efforts,” he said. “And whatever you need to help insure that Frederick County gets what it needs for its residents and these critical projects, I know we will be here for you.”
He also noted that the current volume on US 15 is 117,000 vehicles per day, and that’s expected to increase to 182,000 in 20 years.
By Kevin McManus