Md. gas tax increase raises funds for transportation projects

WASHINGTON – If you get gas in Maryland, you may have noticed that prices have gone up.

The increase comes as a result of the General Assembly’s passage of a gas tax boost and part of the money it raises will fund $650 million dollars in road, rail and pedestrian projects.

Mike Miller, president of Maryland’s state senate, knows no one likes paying more for gas, but he says residents should look at what they will receive as a result.

“When they see pavement going down, when they see steel, when they see construction workers, they know it’s progress,” he says, adding that he hopes Marylanders will see it is all worthwhile.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker was smiling broadly as Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the projects at the Branch Avenue Metro station Monday morning.

“I think it puts us in a great position to bring the FBI to Prince George’s County,” he says.

Baker was referring to the competition between Virginia and Maryland to attract the FBI. The General Services Administration is considering consolidating federal offices, and that could include moving the FBI from its current headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. Baker says without the funding for transit and traffic improvements, making the pitch to the federal government was a tough sell.

O’Malley explained that drivers, transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians could all benefit from the bundle of projects. Under the plans, several interchanges will give drivers better access to Metro stations and congestion is expected to be reduced.

Pedestrians will get a footbridge over a busy roadway and see sidewalk improvements along Route 1 in College Park. More jobs will also be added.

“All of these things are going to create jobs and make our entire state, and particularly this Washington region more competitive economically,” O’Malley says.

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