Marks: No Easy Answers with Traffic and Transportation

My professional career has been in the transportation industry. Before I was elected to the County Council, I worked for 14 years at the state and federal departments of transportation.

I have always enjoyed the transportation sector because it is among the least partisan areas of public policy, and because the results are so tangible—a highway project or a transit line, for example, is visible evidence of something that improves people’s lives.

That doesn’t mean that there are sometimes hard choices to be made.

At the local level, transportation can be a very difficult issue.

In the Towson area, many engineers and community leaders want to divert traffic from York Road onto Bosley Avenue. That alleviates congestion in the Towson core, but it funnels traffic closer to the Southland Hills and West Towson neighborhoods.

In Loch Raven, the Maryland Transit Administration wants to put a bus line on Joppa Road, which they claim will service the businesses and neighborhoods near North Plaza Mall. Many residents, however, complain this would worsen congestion as cars back up behind the buses.

In Carney, the biggest local issue is the faltering intersection at Joppa and Harford Roads—an intersection many claim is worsened by new development.

And in Perry Hall, county engineers want a 70-foot right-of-way along Forge Road—an overly ambitious project I will downsize so it more appropriately reflects the character of this area.

Every transportation project represents a trade-off. There are no easy answers, and the final decision represents a balancing of public and private interests. Speed bumps slow down traffic, but they limit mobility. A road may be needed for the community’s benefit, but private property will likely have to be secured.

Equally difficult is the debate over how to finance transportation projects. The money isn’t there anymore. There is less gasoline tax revenue because cars are more fuel efficient, and because people are altering their driving as gasoline prices go up. At the same time, it costs more to build projects because asphalt, steel, and concrete are all made from petroleum. But how in the world can we ask people to pay higher gasoline taxes right now?

As a County Councilman, I have no say over federal and state gasoline taxes. My goal is to prioritize our limited funding so we are building the right projects to improve mobility and enhance our neighborhoods.

1 Comment »

  1. 1

    With respect to Mr. Marks, transportation funding would not be as serious a problem if Maryland Democrats (and one-time RINO Guvs) stopped their thieving ways and profligate spending and refused to allow the O'Malley Cabal to steal from the transportation trust fund constantly.

    I am proud of our county leadership here in Baltimore County — even County Democrats — who have done a good job — not perfect — over the last decade plus in being good stewards of our tax dollars. Even O'Guvnah ally Jim Smith was wise enough to tuck away money for school construction so we had a small buffer. If state-level Democrats (and RINO Guvs) acted that way, the state would be in much better shape.

    Comment by Gunpowder Chronicle — May 16, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

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