Speaking before hundreds of County residents at the Silver Spring Civic Building Wednesday night (February 20th), County Executive Ike Leggett said that, “the state of Montgomery County is strong – and growing stronger. We all are fortunate to live in one of the nation’s best places to raise a family, get an education, earn a living and build a business. Most of America would change places with us in a heartbeat.” It was the first time in recent years that the Executive has given a State of the County speech.
Later in his speech, Mr. Leggett explained that continued economic growth will depend on ensuring that the county’s transportation system meets its needs now and in the future. He said that three major transportation projects must be built within the next decade to achieve this goal: the Purple Line, the Corridor Cities Transitway, and a Rapid Transit Vehicle system.
To pay for these critical projects, Leggett has advocated for an increase in the State’s gasoline tax. He has again testified in Annapolis in favor of proposed legislation to do so. “Several years ago,” he said, “I virtually stood alone in advocating for an increase in the State’s gasoline tax. It wasn’t popular then, and it isn’t popular now. But we needed it then, and we still need it now. In fact, we need an increase in transportation revenue now more than ever before.” He noted the State’s gasoline tax hasn’t been increased since 1992 –when George Bush Senior was President. Such an increase would help replenish the State’s Transportation Trust Fund and assist counties throughout the State to advance major transportation infrastructure, he said.
In his address, Mr. Leggett cited progress made on his Pedestrian Safety Initiative. He noted pedestrian collisions and fatalities have been consistently declining since 2009 when the program began implementation of a series of engineering, education, and enforcement actions.
Mr. Leggett also called for several new initiatives, including an “Open for Business” initiative that would simplify the development process in the County by implementing improvements recommended by a stakeholder group to streamline requirements, reduce the time it takes for projects to be built and lower costs for everyone. This potentially would include reducing the number of transportation reviews associated with new developments.
For the full text of the speech visit the County’s website.