- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 15, 2004

No one likes traffic congestion, yet there is still too much of it in Maryland’s 5th District. At best, congestion is frustrating and time-consuming, making us late for work, wasting fuel and polluting our air. At worst, it contributes directly to automobile collisions and fatalities.

Washington metropolitan commuters spend more than 46 hours a year in traffic — 10 hours more than the national average. While there have been steps to remedy this problem, anyone who has driven around our district at rush hour knows more is needed.

I believe the national capital area deserves a state-of-the-art transportation network. Southern Marylanders have been long waiting for a modernized transportation system, and this need will become more apparent in the future. Southern Maryland — St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties — is projected to become the No. 1 economic engine of Maryland in the next 10 years, and that will require an efficient transportation system.

A modernized system is crucial to economic growth and stability. For every $1 billion invested in our nation’s highways, an estimated 47,500 jobs are created and kept. The construction of more roads and availability of mass transit will mean more businesses setting up in Southern Maryland. That will translate into more job opportunities and more revenue for state coffers — revenue to help pay for these improvements to our transportation infrastructure. All these advancements will contribute directly to Southern Maryland’s productivity.

Without a transportation system for the 21st century, Marylanders also could face preventable snarls in a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Hurricane Isabel reminded us of the importance of being able to leave the area quickly and safely. More disturbingly, in an age of heightened national security — especially considering our nearness to well-known terrorist target Washington, D.C. — we should not wait until a devastating attack proves our need for safe mass evacuation routes to build a modern transportation system.

In short, Maryland needs a balance of roadway and transit projects to adequately prepare for its future. We need smart decisions about where to build more of each. We need operational improvements to the current transportation system without sacrificing environmental and safety concerns. And such operational improvements are needed as traffic lights controlled by volume rather than time of day. Upgrading of Intersections is needed to handle more traffic.

Maryland’s leaders must improve collaboration on new project decision-making, involving all interested parties. We must specifically explore and develop promising projects such as the Inter-county Connector (ICC), the Hughesville Bypass, Route 301 Bypass in and around Waldorf, light rail, rapid bus and the Metro Purple Line concept. We need new imagination and new energy for the 5th District’s transportation options. I will bring this energy to our district as Maryland’s next congressman.

Southern Maryland’s future can be bright. With the area’s projected growth, I can’t help but be optimistic. To facilitate this future, to solve our problems, we cannot remain with the status quo. We need fresh leadership and vision. We need new thinking. Mostly, we need a representative who will fight tooth and nail for our share in Congress.

With your help and support, I will take on this fight.

I am confident we can make and keep our paths of transportation accessible, economical, efficient and, most important, conducive to the safety of all Marylanders.

BRAD JEWITT

Mr. Jewitt is the Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Maryland’s 5th Congressional District.

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