Govs, Mayor Meet in Annapolis
Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., (R) and D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) met today in Annapolis to review their shared progress and cooperation on priorities for the National Capital Region, including air quality, transportation, homeland security, the Chesapeake Bay, tourism, and nanotechnology.
From Warner's news release:
This was the fifth meeting between the three leaders since April 2003. The 2003 meeting was the first between Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. executives in 12 years.
Governors Warner and Ehrlich and Mayor Williams met for two hours in the Maryland State House. Governor Warner led discussions on the region's accomplishments in transportation, air quality and nanotechnology. Governor Ehrlich led discussions on regional homeland security efforts and the Bay.
Mayor Williams led a discussion on the region's tourism successes.
"In terms of air quality, this year is the first year since the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments where we've had zero 'Code Red' ozone days," Governor Warner said in an update on air quality issues. "This occurred despite a hot and dry summer, and increases in population and vehicle miles. That is a major milestone for this region. In addition, we created the Interstate Air Quality Council earlier this year to further improve air quality in our shared region."
Governor Warner noted that cooperation on transportation issues announced at previous meetings of the leaders already has produced tangible benefits.
"For instance, the Wilson Bridge project is on-time and on-budget because we have worked together and respected professional management," Governor Warner said. "Working together as a region, we have jointly managed more than 9,000 incidents since 2003 on the 14th Street, American Legion, Wilson and Roosevelt bridges. These relatively small management improvements have allowed us to improve peak-hour commute times by an average 20 minutes a day."
Governor Warner also summarized the region's progress on transportation, announcing studies of transit, rail, bus, HOV and HOT lanes for the Capital Beltway that could produce substantial progress across state lines. Virginia will lead the study for the 14 miles of the Wilson Bridge Corridor, and Maryland will lead the study for the 14 miles of the American Legion Bridge Corridor.
Governor Ehrlich discussed homeland security.
"Governor Warner, Mayor Williams and I have a strong partnership that is making the National Capital Region a cleaner and safer place to live," said Governor Ehrlich. "Together, we have made significant investments in the region's homeland security preparedness. Our homeland security teams are incorporating the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina to keep our citizens safe in an emergency. We are working closely to improve water quality in the region through bay grass restoration and a greater focus on impaired rivers. I have truly enjoyed working with Governor Warner the past three years, and I look forward to working with Mayor Williams and Virginia's next Governor to build on our shared successes to date."
Mayor Williams addressed regional tourism issues.
"With Washington, D.C., now the fourth most popular sightseeing destination in the country, tourism becomes an even more critical economic issue for the region," said Mayor Williams. "We need to continue to work together as a region to provide the infrastructure support that is needed to keep our tourism industry - in Virginia and Maryland as well as in Washington - at the top of its game."
At the last regional meeting, Governors Warner and Ehrlich and Mayor Williams agreed to establish the Chesapeake Nanotechnology Initiative, a cooperative initiative between Maryland, Virginia, and the District, that aims to accelerate research, development and the establishment of new nanotechnology companies in the region. A Steering Committee is due to make recommendations to the three leaders by December 6th, and Committee members are exploring a cooperative research and commercialization program among several of the region's universities.
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