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Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss. Martin O'Malley, who will become Maryland governor next week, introduced his designated transportation secretary at a jammed town hall meeting in Montgomery County last night.

John D. Porcari has served most recently as vice president for administrative affairs at the University of Maryland in College Park. But before that, he spent four years as Maryland's transportation secretary under Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Porcari helped get the big reconstruction projects started at BWI-Marshall Airport and the Wilson Bridge. He also helped improve Maryland's Department of Motor Vehicles services.

When O'Malley introduced Porcari last night in the auditorium at Einstein High School, many people stood to applaud, in what generally proved to be a love-fest for the governor-elect and the new Montgomery County executive, Ike Leggett.

When Leggett invited the public to approach two microphones, scores of people took up the offer. The first transportation topic that came up was a call for rebuilding the intersection at Georgia Avenue and Randolph Road. That congested interchange, not far from the high school, is a widely acknowledged failure.

Porcari took the microphone to respond, and spoke directly to the issue. He said the junction is "one of the worst inserctions in terms of performance in Montgomery County," but that the new administration needs to examine how much money is available for new projects. Porcari didn't sound optimistic.

He said that the new administration will conduct a 30-day audit of the state's transportation trust fund, but that there are real limitations on the ability to add new projects. At some point, he said, the state will need additional revenue for new work.

Porcari continued a refreshing pattern of not indulging the audience in fantasies in responding to a request for weekend MARC train service. To do that, he said, the state would first need to enter into a new operating agreement with CSX railroad, which owns the tracks, and then come up with the money for the service.

But he said "the first order of business is to get adequate capacity for the ridership we have today" during the weekday commuter service. Judging from the complaints I hear from MARC riders, many of whom say the train service is unreliable and the equipment overtaxed, Porcari was absolutely right.

Of course, the intercounty connector came up, and it was clear this crowd was very much in opposition to construction of the highway across the county. But O'Malley pledged only to keep an open mind on such issues.

It was too bad the speakers were more inclined to tell stories than ask questions. I think they would have gotten some more straight answers from Porcari. It will be very interesting to see how the new administration handles the ICC construction issue. Porcari was transportation secretary when Glendening cancelled the project, but I'm not sure that gives us any hint about what advice he'll offer the new governor.

I am optimistic, though, that Porcari will be an ally for the Washington suburbs in creating a balanced transportation system.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 10, 2007; 8:13 AM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Comments

How come the Post concealed from its readers the fact that last night's crowd was overwhelmingly against the ICC?

All you read, buried at the end of an article, is that O'Malley "was asked several pointed questions on immigration and transportation issues, including many about his support for the planned intercounty connector."

From all a reader could tell, the attendees were asking him to promise to build it faster.

The Sun's article about the same event was headlined "ICC protesters greet O'Malley at Kensington event" and in the first paragraph described " a vocal crowd largely opposed" to the ICC.

It sounds like the Post is more interested in cheerleading for its beloved ICC than reporting the news. Why remind readers that this giveaway to the highway lobby is going to burn up $2.4 billion dollars that could be better spent on transportation projects that would actually help commuters?

Posted by: Newsorpropaganda? | January 10, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

OK, buddy, you anti-ICC people make me sick. Instead of my grandfather having to get medivaced to the hospital, which happened because traffic was so bad on georgia avenue, an ambulance could have come faster, gotten to a decent hospital faster, and reduced complications from a stroke. All because people think that not building a road will keep development away but they sure want their social services provided by oodles of tax money from increasing economy which comes from, what, more people! No, you just don't want them in your backyard. Well listen up - move to western West Virginia where it really is rural. Montgomery County is NOT rural, it will NOT remain rural, and by not building the ICC all you do is sacrifice the safety and quality of life of the CURRENT residents, not even to mention the future residents.

Posted by: Move away anti-ICCer | January 10, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

the whole event was mainly protestors not supports, not a good start for O'Malley at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

the whole event was mainly protestors not supporters, not a good start for O'Malley at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Move away -

Traffic will get worse on Georgia Ave. if the ICC is built. All those cars headed for the ramps. (And I believe that the state's studies confirm that common-sense statement.) If you extended Metro to Olney, then you'd take traffic off Georgia Ave.

By the way, the anti-development NIMBYs are pro-highway. The transit supporters like me want more development around the Metro stations.

Posted by: Newsorpropaganda? | January 10, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

If the Washington Post becomes anymore political correct we will see a hammer and sickle on the front page banner in red ink (Soviet Union style Communism). Just once I would like to see the Post tell the true story about the effects illegal immigration has on the United Sates and Metropolitan DC area specifically. Not a word about immigration in your post and it was a topic of discussion.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

"How come the Post concealed from its readers the fact that last night's crowd was overwhelmingly against the ICC?"

That's hardly the case. The Post ALWAYS gives free publicity to any five-dollar ICC oppoNUT who opens his/her mouth (or any other road opponent, for that matter).

Why else do you think these oppoNUTS won't shut up and go away?

Posted by: CEEAF | January 10, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"Why remind readers that this giveaway to the highway lobby is going to burn up $2.4 billion dollars that could be better spent on transportation projects that would actually help commuters?"

Transportation projects that would "actually help commuters"?

Are you, by any chance, speaking of the Purple Line "Toonerville Trolley" that will not reduce traffic congestion since it (like ALL light rail in the US) will only attract riders who already take the bus?

No intelligent, open-minded person believes the Purple Line will alleviate Beltway congestion or provide a viable alternative to the ICC. Only the oppoNUTS - NIMBYs, the enviro-nuts, the car-haters, and the advocates of "build only rail and stop every road" - are on that ride.

Or perhaps you're thinking of the $4 billion - plus perpetual operating subsidies subsidies - Dulles rail developers' boondoggle?

Did you know that even its supporters acknowledge Dulles rail isn't cost-justified? Did you know that studies commissioned and paid for by Dulles rail proponents (developers who stand to gain from increased property values and building rights) show projected ridership too low to make the project justifiable to the Feds?

Any middle-class taxpayer who supports Dulles rail is a SUCKER in CAPITAL letters.

Do a little research before you curse the "highway lobby" and shill for the rail transit lobby. You might learn something.

Posted by: CEEAF | January 10, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Well then I guess that I'm a SUCKER. Dulles rail is one of the many projects--both road and rail--needed to upgrade the infrastructure around Washington.

CEAFF, one of your biggest arguments against rail are their operating subsidies. You know what else has to be subsidized during and after building? Roads. Transit is not intended to pay for itself and neither are roads.

Posted by: Baltimore | January 11, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Newsorpropaganda? (and other illiterates),

Are you blind, or can you not read well? I quote "Of course, the intercounty connector came up, and it was clear this crowd was very much in opposition to construction of the highway across the county."

That looks to me like they did mention the fact that people were protesting the ICC. Why don't you quit spreading YOUR propaganda.

Posted by: Steve | January 11, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice quote from the blog. But my complaint wasn't about the blog. It was about the newspaper. Do you think the Post's policy should be "the spin in the print edition and the facts in the blog"?

Posted by: Newsorpropaganda? | January 11, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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