Detailed Responses - Congressional District 8
Do you support the Locally Preferred Alternative selected by Gov. O'Malley for the Purple Line, including an at-grade light rail line with a trail alongside it on the Georgetown Branch right of way between Bethesda and Silver Spring, as well as the at-grade light rail line running along Campus Drive through the University of Maryland?
Chris Van Hollen (D) Our region needs a network of intermodal transportation options. I support the Purple Line proposal so long as it’s constructed in a manner that protects the integrity of the Capital Crescent Trail and the neighborhoods along the corridor. I appreciate the MTA’s efforts to maintain at least 10-foot trail width along the alignment, improve access points for pedestrians and cyclists, and preserve the Wisconsin Avenue tunnel.
I support the alignment in the Locally Preferred Alternative on Campus Drive provided the Maryland Transit Administration continues to ensure pedestrian crossings and address researchers’ concerns about electromagnetic interference.
I worked to designate the Purple Line as a “New Start” in the Transportation Equality Act, a pre-condition to federal funding. I secured $3 million in federal funds for the project in FY2010 and am working for an additional $1.5 million in FY2011. I will continue to work to secure funds for a project that enhances transit options while protecting the existing neighborhoods.
When the federal surface transportation program is reauthorized, should we give transit a higher priority relative to highways? How specifically would you change current law?
Chris Van Hollen (D) I support additional investment in transit and intermodalism. That should include an adjustment of relative priorities. By funding New Starts at higher levels, we would be able to meet the demand for those funds across the country and improve federal match rates to give states more incentive to pursue transit projects.
We also have to redefine our transportation objectives toward livable, sustainable communities and redirect funding to projects that can meet those needs in areas around the country. Policies like Complete Streets require consideration of all users and lead to more options. I am pleased that the House proposal includes an Office of Intermodalism to implement projects that maximize transportation options.
We must also reform the New Starts and Small Starts program, building on the Obama Administration’s decision to replace “cost-effectiveness” as the primary funding criteria in favor of a more complete evaluation including economic development, land use, and reduced energy consumption. We must streamline the program application and approval process, which currently takes an average of 10 years and costs states and localities millions in planning and design. By removing obstacles to federal partnerships on transit, we can disburse those dollars more effectively and save money in the long run.