Maryland’s U.S. senators are in the process of drafting a transportation bill in Congress that would grant the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority at least $150 million a year for the next decade.
At a meeting with members of the Montgomery County Council to review federal legislation earlier this month, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, also said Congress is continuing to provide funding for the planned 16-mile Purple Line light rail system connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Van Hollen and Sen. Ben Cardin recently announced a $120 million commitment from the Federal Transit Administration for fiscal 2020, which is part of a larger $900 million grant for the Purple Line project, more than half of which has been funded through the current fiscal year, but is facing delays and cost overruns.
Federal and state subsidies for the region’s subway and bus system have been a flashpoint for years.
Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia signed an agreement in March 2018 to contribute $500 million each year to finance the joint-jurisdiction transit agency, with Maryland contributing $167 million. The federal government has contributed $150 million every year since Congress signed legislation among the three jurisdictions in 2008 that provided $1.5 billion in dedicated funding over 10 years. The bill was signed into law by former President George W. Bush.
“The reality is that this was based on a 10-year authorization, and this is the first year we’re operating where there’s no authorization” Van Hollen said last week.
Van Hollen and Cardin, along with Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, are in the process of drafting legislation for a new 10-year agreement that would go into effect in the fiscal 2020 budget, representatives from Van Hollen’s office said. Additionally, Representatives Jamie Raskin and David Trone, Democrats whose districts include Montgomery County, are among nine members of the House representing parts of the Washington region that have made a similar request.
At last week’s meeting, Van Hollen also said he shares the council’s concerns about Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to add toll lanes on the Beltway and Interstate 270,
“I’ve been following your conversations about this issue. They’ve got a lot of studies they have to go through on this, but I share your concerns,” he said.
Van Hollen added that he objects to the governor’s plan to transfer authority of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to the state and add four toll lanes.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.email@example.com