Skip to comments.Maryland Commuters Are Stuck in Traffic: Which Candidates Have the Right Relief Plan?
Posted on 08/01/2018 12:14:41 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Marylanders spend more time commuting to work than the residents of every other state, apart from New York. The time spent stuck in I-270 or Beltway traffic is maddeningly frustrating. Congestion results in less time spent with families and discourages workers from taking jobs involving longer commutes.
Economists estimate that congestion costs run into the billions. The statewide cost of congestion based on auto delay, truck delay and wasted fuel and emissions was estimated at $2 billion in 2015. This is an increase of 22% from the $1.7 billion estimated cost for congestion in 2013.
As serious a problem as transportation is for Marylanders, our candidates offer dramatically different solutions.
Governor Larry Hogan has proposed adding four new lanes to I-270, the Capital Beltway (I-495), and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD 295), as part of a $9 billion Traffic Relief Plan. The Hogan approach involves using private funds to finance the expansion, through a Public-Private Partnership (P3). The P3 would use private developers to design, build, finance, operate and maintain these new express lanes on I-495 between the American Legion Bridge and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, on I-270 between I-495 and I-70 and on MD 295.
To be sure, the Hogan approach involves tolls to pay for the improvements. These are essentially voluntary tolls that only apply when a driver uses an express lane. This gives drivers the option to choose to pay for faster travel, essentially when a drivers personal time is money calculation warrants their doing so.
The Hogan approach has also deployed cutting-edge smart traffic signals to improve traffic operation and ease congestion for approximately 700,000 drivers per day on 14 major corridors across the state. The system uses real-time traffic conditions and computer software that adjusts the timing of traffic signals, synchronizes the entire corridor and effectively deploys artificial intelligence to keep traffic moving.
As Montgomery County Executive, Republican candidate Robin Ficker promises to partner with Governor Larry Hogan to implement the Governors End Gridlock Plan." He would also prioritize I-270 relief for the section from Montgomery Village to Clarksburg.
The Jealous approach? He says he would reverse Larry Hogans singular focus on roads and instead spend more on mass transit. For example, he promises to use scarce state transportation funds to build Baltimores Red Line. Jealous has also been critical of toll-lane expansion.
Meanwhile, Democratic Montgomery County Executive candidate Marc Elrich has been a long-time advocate of a Bus Rapid Transit system. He promises to make building it, along with the Corridor Cities Transitway, his top priorities.
The major problem with the Ehrlich-Jealous mass transit approach is this:
Nearly half of Marylands transportation spending is devoted mass transit, even though cars account for approximately 97% of all travel. The Left tries to justify the imbalance by promising motorists that travelers will be diverted away from the roads to transit.
However, after spending billions over the past two decades on public transit, Maryland mass transits increase of 52,000 daily commuters has been more than offset by a 62,000 loss in carpool commuters. In a single recent year, transit usage dropped 8% in Baltimore and 3% in the Washington metro area. In short, promised travel diversion to public transit has never materialized. Nevertheless, Marylands left-wing progressives are not prepared to give their public transit spending dreams.
Unlike the Hogan Traffic Plan, the Jealous- Elrich transportation approach offers very little hope that Marylanders will see improvements in their commuting times.
Maryland “Freak State” PING!
I lived for 3.5 years in the Arlington area, and would tend to suggest that mass transit appreciation peaked out around a decade ago.
I would go and suggest that anything that has to do with using more buses, won’t be getting much support from the public. If they’d go and add either more Metro routes into DC, or perhaps just add three or four monorail-type routes from 20 miles out (say large parking lots in the middle of these urban zones) and get you into DC within eight minutes....it would draw more public support.
I worked with one guy who simply gave up. He moved his family about 200 miles away, into better living conditions, and he had a RV camper that he kept in the local area...going back home every weekend.
That was confusing. I kept wondering what they were jealous of. Then holy crap there is a guy named Ben Jealous running for Governor!
Hahahahaha! Change yer name to Ben Deredondat...
-You’ve Ben Jealous since the fat kid stole your prom date.
-You’ve Ben Jealous since you stopped growing at 5’4”.
This dude is a walking meme.
Ben Jealous since birth...
The solution to DC traffic congestion is to cut the DC Federal workforce significantly.
The biggest problem in many of these metro areas is that it’s almost impossible to serve a suburb-to-suburb commuter market with mass transit. You’re witnessing a harsh reality check for modern American suburbs.
Ben Jealous. Still am.
Maybe if they’d gone step by step in the 1970s, with more routes (Metro) and more design into communities...it’d work.
I look at the method used in the Netherlands and Germany....with various ‘shadow’ communities that were connected via rapid rail, and they were always ahead of the game.
In the case of DC...they would be doing everyone a favor by moving 50-percent of the government agencies out sixty to a hundred miles from DC.
Move them out even farther..... to separate red states across the country with just small satellite offices in the D.C. area. That would disperse the hundreds of thousands of extremist left-wing federal workers out of Fairfax County, Virginia and put the state back into the red column.
Or shut down 50% of government, move most of the rest out to places like Montana and Idaho, and reduce welfare benefits in DC so the welfare types would move elsewhere and let DC gentrify.
“moving 50-percent of the government agencies out sixty to a hundred miles from DC”
How about 600 to 1000 miles out!
I lived in Howard County Maryland (pronounced Hard Kinty Merrlum) when it was nothing but cornfields and cows. Even then, traffic into Washington sucked. Now, all of those cows have been replaced with cars, but all of the traffic is still funneled into the same too small roads. I can only imagine how bad it is now.
The only thing that will work is to move federal agencies out of Washington. There is no room to widen the Beltway R.R. 270 without tearing down neighborhoods. I changed jobs to cut my one way commute from 2 hours to 15 minutes.
True. The automobile commute works well in smaller cities, but above a certain threshold, cities reach the point of diminishing returns. The D.C. area is far past that point.
A lot of the commuting is, as you suggest, suburb to suburb. So live in the suburb in which you work, or next door, or in the city if you work in the city. My standard advice to young people is to draw a circle a mile in circumference around their job. That's a walking commute. Then draw a five mile circumference circle. That's an easy bike commute, or a very short car commute provided you don't cross a river. Be sure that you know every neighborhood within those circles. Live in one of them.
There are great neighborhoods tucked away all over the area, and the city itself is gentrifying so fast it makes my head spin. There is no reason to live in Urbana and fight 270 twice a day except lack of local knowledge. The public schools are probably the biggest irresolvable problem, but tuition at the local Catholic school is probably less than what folks are spending on their commutes. If we moved to full school choice, game over.
True. The best solution is for people to live closer to their jobs. From a planning perspective, this puts a premium on two things: preserving and enhancing the older, closer-in suburbs; and building integrated, mixed use suburban edge cities with housing, retail and recreation in close proximity to job centers. The smarter suburbs are figuring this out. It's crazy for people to be clogging the beltway commuting from College Park to Rockville, or vice versa. Both are fine places to live, if you work there.
I live on Capitol Hill, which is a transportation outlier because we are so centrally located. Fewer than half drive to work; many are able to walk, the biking presence is strong, and we are well served by busses and metro. That's the model towards which the suburban towns and edge cities should be building. If you live in Urbana, work in Urbana or Frederick; don't try to schlep into DC and expect the State of Maryland to drive arterial roads through other people's closer-in neighborhoods to shave a few minutes off your commute. Go around the beltway and pick your example. The car-centric model of the 60's and 70's was built around the idea of long distance automobile commutes. This ends up producing Tysons, to take perhaps our most notorious example.
Tysons has a daytime population over 100,000, and 97 percent of them drive in. This is laughably bad planning, given that Tysons, historically, was just a road junction between McLean and Vienna that became strategic real estate when the beltway was planned. Tysons sits smack in the middle of endless miles of upscale, Northern Virginia bedroom communities, but it takes heroic efforts to get there without hopping into your car and clogging the beltway, Route 7 or Chain Bridge Road. Fairfax County is now on a 50 year plan to remediate this mess, beginning with the new Silver Line Metro stops, but Tyson's is so moated by arterial roads that reclamation will be difficult. This is a model of what newly developing suburbs need to avoid.
. I had not seen this statistic publicized before. What an imbalance!
Carlton R. Sickles, 82, a former Maryland congressman, legislator and champion of the Metrorail transit system who was known to many as “the father of Metro,” died 1/18/2004 at his home in North Bethesda.
I was introduced to Carlton Sickles at doctors’ office by a colleague who stated that I rode the Metro. I had no idea who he was and asked him “Are you someone important?” He laughed and handed me his 35 year service pin.
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