Maryland MARC train services reaches into Delaware and West Virginia but fails to use existing CSX tracks into Southern Maryland to reach this region. In the above photo and ads which ran in the 2006 election, U. S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, Governor Martin O’Malley, then campaigning for Governor, Anthony Brown, his running mate, Senators Roy Dyson and Mac Middleton, along with Delegates John Bohanan and Sally Jameson, all pledged to bring commuter rail to the area using the existing infrastructure for trains.
Recent plans by silly Charles County panels propose to bring light rail or a Metro extension down Rt. 5 from the Branch Ave. station, which will never happen due to the cost being at least $2 billion.
Maryland already has track use agreements with CSX in the rest of Maryland and already owns and operates the MARC train system. Other regions of Maryland get more for transportation than does Southern Maryland.
MARC Train Service is a commuter rail system whose service areas include Harford County, Maryland; Baltimore City; Washington D.C.; Brunswick, Maryland; Frederick, Maryland and Martinsburg, West Virginia. MARC Train Service operates Monday through Friday only. Weekend Service now available on the Penn Line only.
GOP House of Delegates candidate Bryan “Puff” Barthelme recently stated that he “doesn’t believe in commuter rail” and won’t support efforts by Senate candidate Larry Jarboe to establish a public-private partnership with CSX to operate MARC service to the region.
Republican Tommy McKay joined Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich in opposing commuter rail and a second span over the Patuxent River at Solomon’s in a 2006 statement.
With politicians this brain-dead, Southern Maryland residents can plan on being stuck in traffic.
This article appeared in ST. MARY’S TODAY on Sept. 5, 2004:
McKay Backslides on Two Campaign Promises
By Kenneth C. Rossignol
ST. MARY’S TODAY
LEONARDTOWN — When campaigning for the Republican nomination for St. Mary’s Commissioner President in August of 2002, Tommy McKay said he favored a commuter rail hookup to the metro area.
To date, McKay has backtracked on his previously stated view of bringing in commuter rail service on the existing county-owned railroad right-of-way, apparently because of partisan politics at the coaching of statewide Republicans. When campaigning for the GOP primary contest between himself and Rocky Rowland, McKay expressed a desire for strong cooperation with Sen. Roy Dyson (D. St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert) but since winning both the primary and the general election that year, he has raised the level of partisan political bushwhacking to unprecedented levels.
The following question and answer were published in ST. MARY’S TODAY on August 27, 2002:
ST. MARY’S TODAY: Sen. Dyson passed a bill three years ago which was signed by the Governor and called for a feasibility study for light rail on the old Navy railroad to Lexington Park. The study was completed and calls for the railroad right-of-way to be preserved and for the county to stop allowing easements while plans are made for building light rail. Do you support this effort and will you work to get light rail set as a priority to eliminate the traffic congestion which is grid-locking the regions main highways, Rt. 4 and Rt. 5?
MCKAY: I believe that Sen. Dyson is correct in his thinking there. One of my concerns when it comes to the protection of our defense industry is for the state and local governments to work together to allow people to get in and out of Pax River. I don’t believe everyone wants to live in St. Mary’s county but people can and do want to access the base. A light rail or limited parkway linking us to the Beltway is the logical way to go. If we continue to allow more encroachments across the light rail line right-of-way we will only make the eventual system more expensive. We need to take steps to do this right away.”
Since winning election, McKay has since told ST. MARY’S TODAY that commuter rail is too expensive per passenger mile. Mass transit being subsidized has many payoffs for state, local and federal governments, that is why officials have created, funded, and expanded such systems. One of the most immediate benefits of commuter rail is to move commuters through clogged arteries.
McKay did not cite any studies other than to say the MARC line from Frederick to Point of Rocks was said by administration officials to be too expensive.
While McKay has flip-flopped on the commuter rail issue, other area elected officials who share his political affiliation differ with him on commuter rail.
Del. Tony O’Donnell (R. Lusby), who represents part of the California area of St. Mary’s as well as the southern portion of Calvert County, supports commuter rail as does St. Mary’s Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R. Golden Beach).
Another benefit of commuter rail is to put less toxic exhaust fumes into the air by providing an alternative to miles of bumper to bumper traffic with vehicles carrying a single person.
Southern Maryland has existing CSX rail lines, which extend from the CSX mainline at Bowie to electric power generating plants at Chalk Point on the Patuxent and to Morgantown on the Potomac. Maryland MARC trains could add passenger service on these lines at a fraction of the cost of building new rail lines.
Congressman Steny Hoyer (D. Md. 5th District) told ST. MARY’S TODAY last week that he reaffirms his support for bringing commuter rail service to Lexington Park.
Sen. Mac Middleton (D. Charles) said last week that he finds there is no other way for the region to conquer traffic congestion and that he will file the legislation again this session that he sponsored with Senator Dyson last year, to form a Transportation Study Commission.
The bill filed last year passed the Senate and died in a House committee after failing to win support from the Ehrlich Administration.
Paul Shurick, a press spokesman for Governor Ehrlich, told ST. MARY’S TODAY in the months following the start of the administration that the Governor supported commuter rail service into Southern Maryland.
This year, at the St. Mary’s City celebration of Maryland Day, in March, McKay said that he had been advised by the transportation department that commuter rail is too expensive. But McKay acknowledged that the state pays for highways, thereby subsidizing all the single-occupant vehicles, which are stuck in traffic, as well as paying for bypasses such as the new one being started around Hughesville.
Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D.) is an enthusiastic supporter of bringing commuter rail to Southern Maryland and has hosted a conference of officials in his office to discuss strategies to advance the service.
Schaefer’s chief of staff joined Delegate John Bohanan (D. Lexington Park) in a meeting with CSX officials last September to learn what the railroad would require in order to allow the state to use its tracks into Southern Maryland for passenger traffic.
But improving roadways continues to be a major goal of local officials.
Delegate Johnny Wood (D. Mechanicsville) told ST. MARY’S TODAY that he has asked the State Highway Administration to hold a public hearing this fall for the purpose of addressing the traffic problems on the Rt. 5 / Rt. 235 corridor.
“We are going to have the state people here to find out what we do about these intersections where we have had such terrible crashes,” said Wood.
Wood said that the state would explain possible changes to intersections to limit the number of maneuvers drivers can take, such as has been done to Rt. 4 in Calvert County.
A number of fatal wrecks have taken place at intersections such as the one in front of the Bean Medical Center where a large number of older drivers venture out onto the highway with traffic streaming by at over 70 mph.
Other intersections with a high rate of deadly wrecks are at Airport View Drive, Clarkes Landing, in front of the Mechanicsville Post Office, at Morganza Turner Road and Rt. 235 in Oraville and at the Farmers Market.
The entire traffic corridor would be safer with some traffic diverted to a commuter rail line.
Hoyer promised that he would be giving more attention to the commuter rail need as the legislators prepare for the coming session of the General Assembly and the newly elected Congress prepares to return to work in January.
Hoyer is the minority leader of the United States House of Representatives and hopes that after the November election he will become the Majority Leader.