Region attempts to answer tough transportation questions

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON – When it comes to paying for much-needed transportation improvements in the Washington region, one question stands out: How?

It’s a question that has remained unanswered in Richmond, Annapolis and the Wilson Building for several years.

Now, the National Capital Transportation Planning Board has some suggestions.

Ideas include raising the gas tax or user-based fees by creating more flexible tolls based on congestion pricing, miles traveled and even emission standards for vehicles.

The board, which is made up of local leaders from across the region and representatives from state governments, also suggests putting aside money into a specific fund just for transportation and giving local governments more taxing authority for transportation projects.

“If we’re going to truly support transportation we have to put in the adequate funding to be able to provide transportation services,” says Loudoun County Supervisors Chairman Scott York, who is also vice chairman of the board.

He says state legislators have failed over the last few years to act on the long-term needs of a troubled transportation system in the Washington region.

Falls Church board member David Snyder says the region’s traffic will continued to be congested until there’s a dedicated fund for transportation.

But the request may not mean much in both state capitals. Frederick County commissioner Paul Smith says there are jurisdictional issues.

“If one jurisdiction, like Maryland, raises its gas tax, for example, what that will do is promote growth in other areas and block it in Maryland,” he says.

The letter, addressed to the entire General Assembly in each state and the governors along with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, also says the board, “will not presume to recommend a specific set of revenue resources for any particular jurisdiction.”

The General Assembly sessions in both states convene on Jan. 9.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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