ROCKVILLE, Md., October 31, 2011— The Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T and E) Committee of the Montgomery County Council and the Transportation, Housing and Environment (THE) Committee of the Prince George’s County Council will hold a joint worksession at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the headquarters of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Laurel to discuss transportation of mutual concern of each county. This will be the first time that committees of each county’s Council have met jointly.
The meeting, at the WSSC Auditorium at 14501 Sweitzer Lane in Laurel, will be co-chaired by Montgomery Council Vice President Roger Berliner, who chairs Montgomery’s T&E Committee, and Eric Olson, who chairs the Prince George’s THE Committee.
“There are few transportation issues in the Washington area that impact only one jurisdiction,” said Montgomery Council Vice President Berliner. “When it comes to these projects, we must plan together, we must have vision together and we must work together to get the funding that will make these projects a reality. This meeting will be a great first step between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties to do just that.”
Prince George’s County Council THE Committee Chair Olson said lawmakers from both counties recognize the value of dialogue around the issues that are relevant to both counties.
“When it comes to issues such as the Purple Line, bus transit and transportation funding, neighboring jurisdictions cannot afford to operate in a silo,” he said. “These are the issues that will impact both jurisdictions for years to come so it is important that we work together to create the infrastructure necessary to support these initiatives.”
Among the issues on the formal agenda are the Purple Line, Bus Rapid Transit and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding.
The discussion on the Purple Line—the proposed east-west light rail line that would link the Bethesda Metro station in Montgomery County with the New Carrollton station in Prince George’s—will include an overview of the project, its current schedule and status of funding, and will evolve into a discussion of local planning for access to and redevelopment around Purple Line stations. Michael Madden of the Maryland Transit Administration, Thomas Autrey of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) of Montgomery County and Bob Duffy of the M-NCPPC of Prince George’s are expected to attend.
Montgomery County’s Bus Rapid Transit initiative involves a proposed network of 16 routes comprising 150 to 170 miles of dedicated busways. The plan calls for a world-class, county-wide rapid transit system that is safe, efficient and effectively moves people throughout the county. It has the potential to transform the county’s mass transit capabilities and take significant cars off the roads. The two counties may discuss the potential for expansion into neighboring jurisdictions. Mark Winston, chair of the Montgomery County Executive’s Transit Task Force, and Haitham Hijazi and Victor Weissberg of the Prince George’s Department of Public Works and Transportation are expected.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding is working to help decide the state’s transportation priorities. It also discussing funding recommendations that could include a 15-cent per gallon tax on gasoline that would be imposed over a three-year period. Gus Bauman, chair of the commission, is expected to attend the worksession.
“People who live in Montgomery County, as well as other parts of the Washington metropolitan region, cross jurisdictional borders all the time, and we owe it to our constituents to make sure our thinking crosses borders, too,” said Montgomery Councilmember Nancy Floreen. “By meeting with our neighbors, we’re not only looking at the big picture, but also opening the doors to collaboration that can benefit all of us down the road.”
Said Montgomery Councilmember Riemer: “Our counties have several projects of mutual concern, but working together to secure funding for the Purple Line requires our urgent cooperative teamwork right now. This meeting will be a great opportunity to discuss what steps we can take together to strengthen our effort for an urgent priority that is so vital for each county.”
The joint committee meeting, which will be held in the WSSC auditorium, is open to the public. It will be video recorded and shown on both the Montgomery and Prince George’s county cable stations on future dates.
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