(December 30, 2013—ANNAPOLIS, Md.) Forty members of the Maryland Chamber met with Maryland Transportation Secretary Jim Smith today to discuss his first few months as Secretary and the department’s priorities following the passage of the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013′s $4.4 billion in new investments over the next six years.
The Maryland Chamber was a strong supporter of the legislation to restore trust in the transportation trust fund, increase transportation funding and promote public private partnerships as a tool for addressing Maryland’s infrastructure needs.
“We all know that transportation funding is key. It’s key to economic development, it’s key to job creation, it’s key to relieving congestion and safely transporting people and goods,” Smith said. “I want to thank all of you for what you did, to push the legislature and the governor.”
After years of underfunding transportation infrastructure improvements, Maryland has built up a multi-billion dollar backlog of important projects. Smith said his priority is to get many of these projects into the construction phase as soon as possible. “You’ve got to remember that we’ve got a lot in the queue. Right now I’m concentrating our efforts on getting projects that have already been supported and already been approved, many of which have been designed and engineered, and getting them in the field as soon as possible.”
He said he is pleased that Governor Martin O’Malley has already announced many important projects, including a number of Montgomery County priorities announced earlier this week. He also said there will be more news to share in the very near future.
Smith also made it clear that the department is poised to take full advantage of the Public Private Partnerships (P3) legislation that was passed earlier this year with the Maryland Chamber’s support. The Administration already announced that the Purple Line in Montgomery County will be Maryland’s first P3 transit project. Smith said that Deputy Secretary Leif A. Dormsjo will lead the Department’s P3 efforts.
“I want somebody totally focused on getting the projects out and developing the P3s. Leif was very involved in the passage of the P3 legislation. He was also very involved in the success Seagirt Marine Terminal. So, I’ve already started to give emphasis on P3s and projects,” Smith said.
The Department will be taking the Consolidated Transportation Program on the road next month, so business leaders and other interested parties will have the opportunity to provide input regarding what projects would have the most positive impact in their communities. The Maryland Chamber will keep you informed as the program develops.
Photo: (L to R) Maryland Chamber Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Mathew Palmer; Transportation Coalition Chair Ragina Averella, Manager of Public & Government Relations for AAA Mid-Atlantic; Transportation Secretary Jim Smith; Chamber President & CEO Kathy Snyder, CCE.