It’s a sad fact that we often don’t give projects and policies the attention they deserve until matters become urgent. Such is the case with America’s infrastructure. The condition of many roads, bridges, and ports has become a major issue in recent years as decades of deferred maintenance reveal major problems.
According to one estimate, voters nationwide are currently looking at over $200 billion in measures to pay for transportation improvements. In the San Francisco Bay Area, voters have been asked to pony up nearly $14 billion for road improvements and upgrades for an aging public transit system.
In Southern Maryland, there are similar issues with congestion, outdated mass transit, and the need to pay for these costly improvements. Hopefully local officials will heed the lessons about aging infrastructure learned from other municipalities around the country. Plans must include not just the development of new greener mass transit systems, but long-term preventative maintenance as well.
Aging Infrastructure in Southern Maryland
Those living in particular areas of Southern Maryland understand the complexities and frustration of commuting between home and the metro D.C. area. I-95 is one of the most congested corridors in the nation and the MD 5/US 301 corridor serves as one of the main north/south transportation corridors for Maryland residents. This 18.7-mile length of highway stretches through Prince George’s and Charles counties and is traveled by close to 100,000 persons each day.
To its credit, the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) has committed to studying traffic issues in this area and to making recommendations for future infrastructure improvements and expansion projects. According to the latest Southern Maryland Rapid Transit Study, two projects are currently seen as alternatives for the corridor between White Plains and the Branch Avenue Metro Station inside the Capital Beltway. These include a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system.
Major Area Infrastructure Work Underway
The Washington D.C. metropolitan area is one of the most heavily congested in the country. While it has a mass transit rail system, it’s dated and prone to frequent failure. Earlier this year,D.C. officials began addressing some long-standing issues with a list of 15 repair and rebuilding projects that will be completed over a 10-month period. Work is being completed on the tracks, the trains, drainage systems, and even upgrades to power systems.
Because of these infrastructure improvements, some riders can expect to be inconvenienced in the short-term. In response to this, the Metro has promised to beef up its bus service area-wide. Both Uber and Lyft have boosted local campaigns to get both drivers and riders to use their ride-sharing services. And, Capital Bikeshare is even putting additional bicycles in its racks around the city.
Infrastructure Expansion Lessons
Infrastructure expansion, repairs, and upgrades are complicated matters. Most cities are weary of asking mass transit riders and commuters to find alternative routes while their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent for these lengthy projects.
Seattle is currently in the midst of developing and designing a mass transit system, with the expectation that the Central Puget Sound region is going to grow to 1 million residents by 2040. In creating their system, they are ensuring that they are setting aside funds on the front end to be invested for future upgrades and expansion 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. By doing this, the city won’t have to return to taxpayers with their hands out to fix a crumbling system.
Infrastructure is a key issue for most cities today, whether they’ve developed a mass transit system yet or not. Those that have developed public transit are learning lessons about planning for future growth so that there isn’t a need to play catch up decades later.
Article Submitted By Community Writer