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Maryland Democrats push new approach to transportation

Rachel Baye

When Gov. Larry Hogan canceled Baltimore's Red Line light rail project and altered the plans for the Purple Line light rail in the Washington suburbs last summer, he didn't give legislators a chance to weigh in first, House Speaker Michael Busch said Tuesday.

That's why Busch and other Democratic members of the General Assembly are pushing a package of bills aimed at changing the way the state plans its transportation projects.

“When we looked at the plan the governor put forward, it did not address the growth of the state, job growth of the state, and the opportunities to get back and forth to the workplace, which would have created the greatest economic tool that we could put forward,” Busch said.

One bill announced Tuesday would create a screening process for transportation projects that would rank them based on how well they spur development or address congestion.

Another measure would create a board of riders and other stakeholders to oversee planning by the Maryland Transit Administration.

But Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan, said the bills were strictly a political maneuver.

"Today’s thinly veiled power grab is a reckless attempt by legislators to weaken the role of county executives and other local authorities in order to drown the state’s crucial investments in roads, bridges and transit projects in the bilge of Annapolis politics and lobbying," he said in a written statement.