Gov. Hogan Gives New Statewide Transportation Aid, Scaled-Back ‘Purple’ Rail Line for Mogo– But NADA for Cecil County

June 25, 2015


Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced new transportation aid, including $845 million in new roadwork for counties around the state, on Thursday—but Cecil County was not on the aid list. The no-thanks gesture comes at a time when local business leaders are scheduled to hold a fundraiser for Hogan’s future re-election campaign next week, the first event of its kind.

Hogan also announced that he would support a scaled-back state share of aid to the controversial “Purple” light rail line linking Montgomery County and Prince George’s County—a key decision that had been heavily lobbied for by both counties and area business leaders. But it remains to be seen if Hogan’s proposed state aid of $168 million, requiring more money from the counties and private business partners involved in the project, is sufficient to keep the project on track.

In the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished litany of Cecil County’s dealings with Annapolis, many other counties on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland—where Hogan racked up overwhelming voter support in last year’s election—were given millions in new road aid for their top local transportation priorities. Cecil County, which gave Hogan about 78 percent of its votes in the general election, was notably absent from the new list of state aid recipients.

State transportation aid should, of course, be distributed on the basis of local need and overall state priorities rather than politics. But the reality of Cecil County’s dealings with Annapolis has been that, with a GOP-dominated legislative delegation, the county was not on the aid radar screen of the Democratic Martin O’Malley administration for the past eight years. With the surprise and overwhelming win last November by the Republican Hogan, the county might at least have reason to hope that its support of his candidacy might be recognized, especially since the county’s serious transportation needs have been repeatedly ignored by the state.

Cecil County is slated to be the first location for a political campaign fundraiser, to support a future Hogan re-election campaign, at an event next week, from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday 7/2/15, at The Wellwood in Charlestown, sponsored by the Cecil Business Leaders for Better Government political action committee (PAC). CBL leaders say that they have been reassured in the past few days by the governor’s office that, despite his recent serious cancer diagnosis, it remains his intent to attend the fundraiser event. Tickets to the event go for $100, plus an extra $150 for admission to a 5-6 pm “Backstage with the Governor” one-on-one personal chat time.

CBL announced its plans to proceed with the event on Thursday, saying in an email that the event would be an opportunity to “surround him and his family with even more support as he fights this disease while continuing to work to ‘Reopen Maryland’ for business and job expansion.”

(Hogan had earlier scheduled a political fundraiser that was in fact a “thank you” event to benefit the campaign funds of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who tirelessly campaigned for Hogan. But that event had to be cancelled due to the riots in Baltimore.)

During a Thursday press conference in Annapolis, Hogan announced $845 million in new aid to local counties for transportation projects they had identified as top priorities on the annual list sent by the counties to Annapolis. For example, $160 million was allocated for widening of Route 404, identified as a top priority by Talbot, Caroline and Queen Anne’s counties on the Eastern Shore. And $90 million was tapped for realignment of US 219 in Garrett County, in far western Maryland.

A big-ticket item was $185 million for I-95/I495 interchange access and improvements that will aid safety at that major intersection and boost access to the Greenbelt Metro rail station in Prince George’s County. And Frederick County will benefit from a $110 million project to reconstruct a state road’s interchange with I-270.

While the $845 million in local county aid was clearly new money for transportation, Hogan did some double-counting of previously allocated funds, including money to repair many state-owned bridges—a problem that was highlighted recently by a state-owned bridge collapsing on a motorist driving beneath it in the Washington suburbs of Maryland. By Hogan’s count, his total transportation initiative amounts to $1.9 billion—but that includes $625 million in “preserved projects” that had already been planned and aided and continue to proceed, as well as state-owned bridge projects.

The $845 million in new top local priority projects is an important boost for many counties—but not Cecil—that have been pleading for help since the O’Malley administration slashed up to 90 percent of past state aid levels under the local revenue sharing program for highway user funds, generated by local gas tax and auto registration fees in each county. In the past, Cecil County had received about $3 million a year in such aid, used for repaving roads damaged by weather and age, but in recent years the county has received only about $300,000 a year in such state aid.

During his campaign, Hogan pledged to be attentive to local road needs and not focus primarily on rapid transit in the heavily populated areas of the state. But so far he has not overhauled the formula for local aid, although his new initiative does pick some “winners” in state aid to the counties.

Cecil County submitted a list of its top five transportation aid priorities to the state government in April, according to Scott Flannigan, the county’s Director of Public Works. He told Cecil Times the list was as follows: 1. Reconstruction of the I-95/Route 222 interchange in Perryville; 2. Extending the MARC commuter rail line from Perryville to Elkton and beyond into Delaware’s expanding rail hub; 3. Enhance the I-95/Route 40 toll discounts for local residents and business vehicles; 4. Improve the Route 40/213 interchange in Elkton—which has been a key county concern for decades, but repeatedly ignored by the state; 5. Create a mid-county transportation ‘hub’ in the North East area to support expanded county bus services.

But none of Cecil County’s priorities made it to the governor’s new list of county transportation aid projects.

“Of course we are disappointed” with the governor’s new local aid list, Flanigan said. And if Hogan does indeed show up to the Cecil County fundraising event next week, “perhaps some people might want to ask him why Cecil County was not included” on the list.

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4 Responses to Gov. Hogan Gives New Statewide Transportation Aid, Scaled-Back ‘Purple’ Rail Line for Mogo– But NADA for Cecil County

  1. scott on June 25, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Just another politician. Maybe, just maybe, our previous representatives have given Ceciltucky a black mark? Na…

    • Harold McCanick on June 27, 2015 at 9:23 am

      One “previous representative” gave the power companies a “GREEN Mark”! I can still hear him pleading as he went down in flames–“Just One More Term!”

  2. Ron Lobos on June 26, 2015 at 10:01 am

    I am also disappointed in the amount of funding given in this years county budget for the maintenance of Cecil County roads. In my humble opinion, the CCPS should have been given much less for their failed administration and more money should have been given for the maintenance of county roads.

    Road maintenance “directly” benefits all of us. The $4.25M increase given to the CCPS only directly benefits students, parents and CCPS employees, and hopefully (and I say hopefully) will benefit residents sometime in the future. As of right now I say it is not benefitting us because crime is up, local prostitution is up, drug abuse is up, etc. So I’d say the school system is not teaching our kids to be productive in society.

    But our roads could have been fixed right now.

  3. Harold McCanick on June 27, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Purple Line and the Inter-County Connector: let’s see which one can run more over budget with their over adornments. “Heavily Lobbied”? How about matching any funds these lobbyists contribute and see how bad they really want this boondoggle. PG and Montgomery counties are two of the wealthiest in the country–why should we be a resource for their high society conveniences when our existing roads have become unsafe? …they are a big reason we got eight years of Owe Malley, and don’t think Owe Malley hasn’t already [given] away plenty on projects in those two counties.

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