- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger says he will attempt to secure $74 million from the fiscal 2008 federal budget to help Maryland prepare for an influx of workers as its military bases expand.

Mr. Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, will seek $25 million for road improvements and mass transit, $21 million for water and sewer systems and $28 million for infrastructure needs at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The military installations will gain thousands of workers by 2011 under the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan. The growth is expected to result in clogged roads, crowded schools and strained public infrastructure.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ruppersberger, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said yesterday that improving mass transit to ease road congestion is a high priority for the congressman.

For workers to use mass transit, it has to be convenient and dependable, said spokeswoman Heather Moeder Molino. The mass-transit funding Mr. Ruppersberger requested will go toward a bus system connecting the MARC rail line with the military bases.

Mr. Ruppersberger’s district includes Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade. He consulted with local and state leaders before making the funding requests, Mrs. Molino said.

The money is just the beginning of what the counties will need to deal with the effects of BRAC.

“This is just a down payment in the long list of projects,” Mrs. Molino said.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, also is seeking federal funds for Maryland counties and military installations affected by BRAC.

She recently announced that 2008 spending bills in the Senate include $719.7 million for BRAC construction projects on military bases and an increase for the federal Impact Aid program.

The Impact Aid program provides federal funding to schools attended by children whose parents are in the military or work on a military base. The Department of Defense estimated that Maryland schools will be enrolling 4,000 more of those children by 2011.