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State letter reignites transportation funding debate

August 5th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Maryland jurisdictions have two weeks to submit new information about major transportation projects seeking state support or else those projects could lose funding, according to a recent directive from the Maryland Department of Transportation.

The request was necessitated, said MDOT Deputy Secretary of Operations James F. Ports Jr., by a contentious transportation project scoring law passed this year by the General Assembly and opposed by Gov. Larry Hogan.

In a letter dated July 28, Ports asked local governments to submit a dozen new reports related to highway and transit projects with budgets greater than $5 million. The required documents, which include traffic impact, air quality and environmental impact studies, are due Aug. 15.

Meanwhile, the sponsors of the transportation scoring bill say MDOT's request is unnecessary and an attempt to create "hysteria" among local governments.

The letter has reignited partisan squabbling over transportation funding, one of the last legislative session's most divisive debates.

Lawmakers passed the Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act of 2016 — which requires MDOT to create a scoring system for transportation projects competing for funding — but were split along party lines.

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