No, this is not an overly expensive trip to the Block, this is how we could create and or sustain 1,187,500 jobs, improve the quality of life, reduce congestion, manage growth, limit sprawl, protect and improve the environment, and increase opportunity for the 2.6 million people in Central Maryland. It’s a way to get one third of the way toward the President’s goal of creating or sustaining 3,000,000 jobs. It’s the creation of a world class transit system for Central Maryland.
In 2002, a commission appointed by Secretary Porcari released a vision and a plan for Central Maryland that had an estimated cost of $12 billion dollars. That plan, today would cost approximately $25 billion dollars. The plan was not drafted in a dark smoke filled room. It was the work of a 23 member diverse advisory committee made up of elected, business, faith based, and civic leaders. It was the result of 13 public meetings, 2600 surveys, and over 600 written comments. It was far from perfect, but it was good. It was good because it offered us the opportunity to embrace the culture of transit that once dominated this region when trolleys ran up and down our streets, counties, towns, and Baltimore City connecting people to places and opportunity.
If the US Department of Transportation is correct that every $1 billion invested in transit and highway capital improvements creates or sustains 47,500 jobs, this plan alone could mean 1,187,500 jobs created or sustained in Central Maryland; that is economic development. Central Maryland residents, workers, students, and worshipers being able to have the option to utilize public transportation rather than drive would dramatically reduce the vehicle miles traveled in our region and therefore dramatically reduce carbon emissions and reduce the utilization of fossil fuels; that’s environmental protection. Ease of travel on well-connected rapid, reliable, and regional transit would mean that our most economically vulnerable citizens would no longer be solely dependent on cars and the cost associated with them. This would open up economic, educational, and recreational opportunities beyond their immediate geographic area; that is equitable access.
Therefore, my big vision is a day when the mayor of Baltimore City and the county executives of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties collectively get behind a plan that is mutually beneficial in the short, mid, and long term. When they say to the President and our Congressional Delegation, provide us with $25 billion of the over $800 billion stimulus package for an excellent transit system and we promise you, it will stimulate us now and for generations to come!