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What's Your New Year's Outlook?

New mayor in the District, new governor in Maryland: What's your New Year's wish list for these guys? And while we're at it, let's throw some requests for the members of the Virginia General Assembly, who will be telling you between now and election day in November how much they've done to improve your travels.

I'd like them all to kick in more money for Metro transit operations, while urging the Metro board members to limit the fare increases and service reductions to whatever is truly essential. (They can do more than urge the board members in most cases.)

In Maryland, I'll be curious to see how Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley performs the necessary balancing acts between roads and transit and between regions of the state. Is the intercounty connector really a done deal? Will he find the money to advance all three of the upcoming transit projects for Baltimore and the Washington suburbs?

What will D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty do about the proposal to knock down the Whitehurst Freeway? How will he balance the interests of city residents and suburban commuters for the good of the District?

And what's your recap on 2006? Don't say it was all bleak. Both of the region's huge transportation projects showed progress: A new span opened on the Wilson Bridge and the Springfield interchange reconstruction opened new ramps and bridges that improved traffic flow and safety. The Friendship Heights bus terminal reopened. More Red Line trains are traveling to Shady Grove, rather than turning around at Grosvenor. Big sections of the Capital Beltway got repaved.

No, it wasn't enough. But what should come next?

By Robert Thomson  |  January 3, 2007; 8:04 AM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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I don't know if it's progress, but it looks like they have cameras on the Dulles Toll Road that actually work, if the sign is accurate. Above the booths exiting from westbound 267 to 28 North, there is a big posted sign now that says Photo Enforced.

Posted by: Chris | January 3, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see some budget accountability for transportation projects. Everyone talks about funding sources but there is no serious discussion about how we get the most bang for our buck other than transit vs roads. Lets hear about the advantages/disadvantages of focusing on big vs small projects; expanding capacity of secondary roads vs highway construction; adding buses vs adding rail cars; etc. Our current Governor and State Senate seem to think that as long as we increase transportation funding, they do not have to account for how the money is actually spent. I suppose if you throw enough mud (cash) at a wall, some of it will fix the cracks (conjestion) but it is a lousy way to govern.

Posted by: Woodbridge Va | January 3, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

O'Malley's a real lightweight, a poor man's Bill Clinton, if you will. Don't expect much from him except higher taxes and soaring budget deficits. Hopefully, he won't do too much damage during his term.

Posted by: rob | January 3, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

DC, Maryland and Virginia need to remind Metro to reduce income...of their station managers. We had a problem with a paper card bought for a one-time rider this weekend. In order to take the left-over money on the paper card and put it onto my SmartTrip card, I have to go to Metro Center because the card was demagnetized. Why? Oh, that's because the money meant for building the technology to put in the stations is being wasted on the guy in the booth that can't help me. Great job Metro. Remember, without riders, you don't have a business. Keep upsetting us and we'll find other ways.

Posted by: Metro too Much | January 3, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Wish 1. Get the first section of the ICC built.

Wish 2. Tysons tunnel underground or redo plan so metro will bypass tysons and install trolley system in tysons to get around.

Wish 3. Purple line on the old rail ROA as BRT.

Wish 4. Feds and states double the tax on fuel to fund public transportation and infrastructure and force people to buy fuel efficient vehicles.

Wish 5. Tax infill and new development the real cost of additional residents. Actually calculate the incremental cost of congestion (and schools and other services) for additional residents instead of some pathetic guess that doesn't do anything.

Wish 6. Politicians get a spine this year? Not bloody likely.

Wish 7. Little Danny Snyder decides to do something productive with his money for the good of the people and sells Redskins then funds a new tunnel from MoCo to LoCo, connecting urban area of Gaithersburg with urban area of Dulles town center. Calls it "The Danny".

Posted by: Steven | January 3, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

My wish for the new year is to say to those people using the 95 corridor - GET EZ PASS! To see the people mindlessly and endlessly backing up at the tolls when they could have zipped through never ceases to boggle the mind when I (finally) am able to get past them and sail through the EZ Pass booths from Baltimore to New York (it didn't help at the Del tolls this year, though).

Please, people - do yourselves a favor and get one of these; it also cuts down on needing to ensure that you have the exact change for the booths; the way the tolls have risen over the past years, I am always unsure what the final damage of the cumulative tolls will be at the end of the trip, hence, I'm grateful for the EZ pass which draws money ONLY when you need it.

Posted by: EZ pass user | January 3, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

For the Good Ole Boy Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly:

Start packing up your offices. 9 months until November, and it takes VDOT longer than that to fix a pothole, let alone accomplish anything substantive.

You do not care that we cannot get to and from work every day without spending hours in traffic? We in turn do not care that you will soon have to start looking for new employment.

Have all the special meetings and sessions you want, it is too little too late and the writing is already on the wall.

Posted by: nocando | January 3, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I want O'Malley to do everything he promised with hundreds of millions in new spending. Unfortunately, that means a huge tax hike in Maryland.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

That 3 Billion Dollar 18 mile toll road dubbed "ICC" must at some point be justified or be scuttled. The out-going governor was all to eager to put Maryland into debt for years to come - while most taxpayers know there is no return on this "investment" (unless you win a contract for its construction). There are better alternative road solutions than the ICC (which ended up as the most expensive option). Example: Existing east-west roads can expand a lane and no $7 toll will be necessary - thus drivers could actually benefit, alternative routes benefit, less parkland destroyed, fewer homes and yards taken by the state. Corruption need not always win over common sense. Challenge: New MD Governor - allow MD taxpayers to vote yes or no on the ICC!

Posted by: Veteran/Maryland Taxpayer | January 5, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Oh please, Maryland Taxpayer, I pay a helluva lot more MD taxes than you do I'm sure (in fact, I'd venture a guess that my taxes are paying your cushy retirement), and you really think that they can expand the east / west roads in MoCo instead of the ICC? Let's look at those roads - Norbeck and Muncaster Mill. First of all, expanding those roads would take out 10 times as many individual residences as the ICC will. Second, you really think the NIMBYs of MoCo would let that happen? Third, the funds for the ICC come from the federal government and would just be allocated to other states - probably more bridges to nowhere in Alaska or some other unpopulated area. And your charge of Ehrlich of being "corrupt" is baseless and juvenile. You may not agree with him, but making a statement like that shows your lack of ability to analyze the situation properly.

Posted by: Steven | January 5, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

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