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Biden Visits Laurel to Stump for Stimulus

biden in laurel Biden speaks about transportation at the MARC train station in Laurel. (AP)

In an effort to push through the economic stimulus package in Congress, Vice President Joe Biden visited a Laurel train station today, using the dilapidated train platform as an example of $100 billion in infrastructure projects that would be funded.

Biden was joined by fellow Democrats Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who cited Biden's many years of commuting from Delaware by train as proof of his dedication to transportation causes.

Speaking to reporters on the frigid platform of the MARC station, Biden said the money in the stimulus package would be put to use immediately on infrastructure projects like the worn wooden Laurel platform.

"We cannot wait another two weeks, three weeks, four weeks," said Biden, who criticized members in Congress blocking the proposal's passage. "Now there are some in Washington who still haven't gotten the message{hellip}maybe they don't understand that we're in the midst of the worst economic recession in decades."

More than $100 billion of the $900 billion package would go toward improving roads, bridges and mass transit systems nationally, Biden said, including $400 million for Maryland highways, $100 million for Maryland transit systems and $150 million to for the state's water and sewer projects.

The package would also include funding to modernize 138 schools in Maryland, according to a White House report, and create or save three to four million jobs nationally including about 70,000 jobs in Maryland.

The money would provide much needed fiscal relief, state transportation officials said yesterday. In recent months, they have had to defer $2.1 billion in funding from their capital budget for the next six years, calling off all new construction projects last fall and indefinitely delaying many repair projects, such as the replacement of the wooden planks at the Laurel station.

The cuts were forced by severe drops in state transportation revenue, said State Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari in an interview. In vehicle titling fees, revenue dropped $1.2 billion -- the biggest decrease recent memory, he said.

"This stimulus money is going to be major help to the state. It comes exactly at right time," Porcari said.

Depending what is ultimately passed in the stimulus package, Maryland could see $550 million to $700 million restored to the $2.1 billion in deferred projects.

"Time is of the essence," Porcari said. "This projects are ready to go. We've been preparing for months. We just need the funding."

-- William Wan

By Anne Bartlett  |  February 5, 2009; 2:52 PM ET
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As a Laurel resident I'm glad to see our historic Francis Baldwin Train station featured recognized by VP Biden. I'm sorry only politicians got to participate, since there seemed to be no room at this event for the local folks who braved the cold to see him even from a distance.

However, the real irony is that the Camden Marc line where there event was held has seen a constant erosion of service. Once, there were hourly trains between Baltimore & Washington. Today, a meager (but always packed) commuter service runs mornings and afternoons, and the needs of CSX take precedence over a future-oriented public policy that promotes public transportation. Reviving commuter rail with more service would reduce pollution, and fuel dependency, and provide an easy link to several Metro stations (College Park, Greenbelt,)with no extra rail or road building. That would be real progress.

Posted by: Karenlub | February 5, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it ironic the VP Biden started his comments by saying the Economic Stimulus Package was going to help small businesses when approx. 15 small businesses could not enter or leave their business for 3 hours the day he spoke. No deliveries, no test drive of a car from the Auto Repair shop, no leaving with a part to repair a heating system from the HVAC company. And this does not even begin to calculate what it cost the City of Laurel and the Federal Government to put this event on. And what about the hundreds of parking spaces that where blocked off for the event that are normally full of cars. Where did those commuters park.

Posted by: tfxa55 | February 6, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Biden is proof that there should be a federal cap on how many hair plugs and how much botox an elected official is allowed to have. After all, he is a product of taxpayer money.

Posted by: CitizenPayne | February 6, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

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